Patient Informed Consent: Authors Argue for Physicians Delegating Tasks While Keeping Ultimate Responsibility

July 9, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​A 2017 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case determined that a physician may not fulfill the duty of obtaining informed patient consent through an intermediary. The authors of a June 21, 2018, article in The New England Journal of Medicine suggest that some of the implications of this ruling may take away important benefits that should not be overlooked. Although the authors concur that the physician must carry ultimate responsibility for obtaining informed consent, they note that since the ruling took place, healthcare organizations throughout Pennsylvania have changed their procedures for obtaining patient consent, no longer allowing nonphysicians to help in the process, and sometimes stopping physician trainees as well. A majority of Pennsylvania healthcare providers recently surveyed said they were unhappy with the way the ruling has affected consent processes and the way patients are served. Although the ruling applies only in Pennsylvania, the decision may have a wider influence.

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