Hospital trust develops digitised template to comply with GMC guidelines on patient consent
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has begun to use a digitised system for patients to provide their consent to operations, and is working with the co-developer to make it available around the service.
Named eConsent, it has been developed by the trust and commercialised by e-Health Innovations, part of the Wellbeing Software Group.
The company said the system has been designed to support clinicians in adhering to General Medical Council Guidelines that doctors must ensure patients are aware of the risks involved in an operation, and provide documentary evidence that there was a proper discussion before consent was granted.
It added that it provides a standardised approach that enables auditing of clinical processes and can reduce the risk of litigation.
eConsent provides a consent form template that can be prepopulated with patient details and the clinical risks and benefits of a specific procedure. It can be presented to the patient along with a relevant information leaflet.
Patients are given time to review the documents and understand risks and benefits before signing. Once completed, the consent form is stored on the trust’s server and becomes part of the patient’s permanent medical record.
The system has been used at the Worcestershire Trust by a team led by consultant general surgeon Dr Stephen Lake.
e-Health Innovations said that, before eConsent was introduced at the Worcestershire Trust only 49% of audited medical notes had documented evidence that the benefits and risks of procedure had been discussed with the patient. Only 63% of consent forms included the patient’s NHS number and 69% had the date of consent.
After the forms were introduced the figures for all of these were raised to 100%.
Similarly, the proportion of forms that contained illegible items or were completed by a non-competent professional were reduced from 25% and 21% respectively to zero in both cases.
Lake said: ‘Since inventing and deploying eConsent at this Trust, we have been able to give individual patients much more information about the procedure, including the specific risks and benefits involved.”
He added: “Our view is that we have achieved a solution which is facilitating us in the progress towards becoming a paperless trust.”
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