Informed consent is an important part of any medical treatment, whether in a clinical or hospital setting or in an emergency department. Informed consent is the process of communicating to a patient the various aspects of a treatment prior to implementing the treatment or engaging in any medical intervention or procedure. Patients must understand the medical value, risks or alternatives to a treatment or procedure, for their own peace of mind and without the written consent of the patient, a physician, nurse, hospital or medical facility is open to liability concerns and lawsuits, driving up healthcare costs and contributing to the distrust of the medical world. Health Information Management professionals know the value of informed consent and good recordkeeping for the safety of the patient, as well as the doctor, hospital or medical facility involved in the patient’s treatment.
Medical professionals have been urged to follow strict guidelines for informed consent for ethical reasons since the 1950s. Recently, in all 50 states, informed consent has become a legal issue as well, and the importance of Health Information Management has become increasingly important to the security of the medical world. Medical professionals such as nurses, physician’s assistants, doctors and other healthcare providers are all under the same ethical and legal guidelines to provide answers to patients for their wellbeing. Health Information Management professionals have long needed a way to not only be sure that patients remain informed of their health issues, but also have a way to keep their consent documented, to benefit legal issues as well as help with any recurring patient health issues.
As medical records become computerized, there are more options available for Health Information Management professionals to not only record the acknowledgement of treatments and procedures by patients, but to also provide easier methods of delivering this information. Much has been said about the introduction of telehealth devices that help doctors and nurses monitor the vital statistics and other health concerns of patients from their homes. With the help of computers, informed consent is being delivered through computer-based informed consent programs that impart medical information to patients.
These can programs detail the diagnosis as well as treatment options, side effects and alternatives, plus they enable the patient to ask questions or receive feedback. Another benefit to computerized informed consent programs is that they may be able to explain how procedures have developed and changed from prior interventions, giving patients the reassurance that their own health concerns are continually being researched and those new treatments and preventative options are being developed. Plus, by keeping records of consent for procedures, underlying causes of health concerns may begin to appear based on the medical information available. Health Information Management professionals also benefit from the programs since they help to cut back on malpractice lawsuits through the documentation and feedback that is provided during the computer sessions.
As technology becomes a regular part of people’s lives, the medical world is using it in ways to make the management of health information easier, benefitting both the patient and doctor or other healthcare professional. The ease with which telehealth and computer-based informed consent programs are delivering important information between patient and doctor can make a big difference in the overall health of those in need of medical intervention.