Monday, February 16, 2009

Should I Be Worried? - Proto Magazine - Massachusetts General Hospital

Should I Be Worried? - Proto Magazine - Massachusetts General Hospital: "You’re also concerned about the multiple-page consent forms patients must sign before surgery.

Consent forms are the antithesis of good risk communication. They are largely a list of possible negative outcomes, and patients simply don’t read the whole form. The wording should be changed to make the information not only clearer but also relevant to patients’ emotions. A simple phrase such as “As you consider the trade-off between the risks and benefits of this procedure” makes the patient feel that the person who wrote the form is on their side; that feeling could prompt the patient to pay more attention and be more likely to supply correct information, which in turn could reduce medical errors. That is key, because such errors pose an enormous risk: They cause more deaths each year than automobile accidents, breast cancer or AIDS."

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