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Helping Medical Patients Reach Informed Consent

Part of the Medical Ethics For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Informed consent is an overarching point in medical ethics; yet reaching informed consent can be difficult. Providers need to be sure patients understand their conditions and the options for treatment before any procedure begins. You can do this by initiating a conversation, asking questions, and communicating clearly. Here are some additional tips:

  • Carefully describe the diagnosis and possible treatments.

  • Allow time for questions.

  • Use written forms describing procedures and go through them together.

  • Listen carefully to patient questions and statements.

  • Ask for feedback.

  • Avoid medical jargon when describing treatments.

  • Ask your patient to explain the situation to you in their own words.

  • Be aware of religious or cultural differences that may affect understanding.

  • Request an interpreter, if necessary.

  • Document the conversation in the patient’s chart.

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