Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The "Green" Consent: Consent Foms On-Demand

I have developed a simple method to get written informed consent from patients in way that completely eliminates paper waste and ink usage while simultaneously maximizing efficiency and the "wow" factor.

Here's how it works.
I composed 5 or 6 consent forms for the various procedures that I do in my office. These procedures include cystoscopy, prostate biopsy, testicular biopsies, and penile duplex scans. I developed the consent forms myself and worded them in English rather than legal-ese. Since I am neither crazy nor stupid, I did have them approved by an attorney.

I keep the consent forms in a directory called "CONSENTS." The documents are MS Word 2007 files. Word 2007 has a great feature: it enables documents to have multiple signature lines. In my consent forms, the documents have 2 signature lines. One line is for the patient to sign and the other line is for me to sign.

After the patient and I have our informed consent discussion, I copy and paste the consent form from the "CONSENTS" directory into the patient's folder. I then type in the patient's name and date and then here comes the cool part. I swivel the tablet PC so that I can use it like it's a piece of paper and I slide it across the desk to the patient. He/she then reads the document right on the Tablet PC and if he/she agrees and understands it, they sign it. Then I take the tablet back and sign it as well.
After my signature is completed, the document locks so that no further changes to it are possible.
5 goals have been thus accomplished:
  1. A necessary legal consent form has been obtained.
  2. The consent has been placed in the chart forever.
  3. The process was done efficiently, inexpensively, and with considerable "cool" factor.
  4. It was accomplished with off-the-shelf software.
  5. Not a shred of paper was used!
I like it. How about you?