On February 7, 2023, surgeons at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) switched to an electronic patient consent (e-consent) process.
In the new system, providers send the e-consent to patients prior to surgery, as opposed to having patients sign a physical consent form when they arrive for surgery. The electronic process allows patients to review the consent forms on their own time and at their own speed. They can thoroughly read the forms in a private place where they feel comfortable and sign when they are ready. By helping patients feel comfortable as they prepare for surgery, we feel we are contributing to the overall culture of patient safety at UCSF.
When providers place the surgery request, they also complete an e-consent document collector, which is personalized to the patient's language and surgical case. The provider signs and then sends the document securely to the patient via MyChart.
E-consent allows us to assure we have the correct consent and, when appropriate, documentation of interpreter use. More importantly, it gives us the opportunity to reset the culture around informed consent such that details of the procedure, risks, benefits and alternatives are discussed in a patient-centric manner with opportunity for questions.
One month later, providers are seeing signs of success.
"We have received positive feedback from both patients and providers since starting the e-consent program," said Megan Durr, MD, who is an associate professor and the director of quality at UCSF OHNS and the interim chief of otolaryngology at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. "When patients have had extra time to thoroughly review and sign their surgical consent forms, it makes for a smoother check-in process on the morning of surgery. We are thrilled that we are now able to offer this to all of our patients."
We are proud to be among the first wave of UCSF Health locations and specialties to begin use of the e-consent. Patient safety is always a chief concern of ours, and we believe the e-consent helps us to continue improving on our processes.
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