Consent: risk assessment, risk communication and shared decision making

Consent: risk assessment, risk communication and shared decision making
Jayne M. Sewell, Catherine Rimmer
Surgery (Oxford), 30 April 2022
The consent process is the foundation of the modern doctor–patient relationship, and can present a challenge to doctors. The consent process can be complex, and often involves the interaction of many different factors, including ethical and legal considerations. A shared decision-making process allows for full consideration of the treatment options available, and takes into account individual patient’s concerns and preferences. Ensuring that the patient is fully informed requires a thorough understanding of the risks of an intervention for that particular patient; therefore, individualized risk assessment is of fundamental importance. Using a combination of individual patient information, formalized investigations, and population data, gives the most complete assessment of risk. Communicating that risk information to patients is key, and the doctor should always use clear language and avoid bias. The use of visual aids and information leaflets, and the avoidance of vague language and complex statistical terms, will help the patient to develop a more complete understanding of the risks they face.

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