Should the informed consent discussion be formally taught?

Most medical students don’t take classes on how to discuss informed consent, that is, talking about the risks and benefits of a medical procedure with a patient.

Pauline Chen remembers such conversations, where she “bumbled through each consent on [her] own, picking up certain phrases and dropping others through a sometimes painful and often awkward process of trial and error.”

That’s often the case, as “young doctors rarely have formal mentorship or the opportunity to observe more experienced physicians doing the process well before they begin to obtain consents on their own.”

And it doesn’t have to take much effort on the part of medical schools to improve the skill. A study that Dr. Chen cited found that a single day-long session was all that was needed to improve a doctor’s ability to navigate through the informed consent discussion.

Every medical school should find time for that.

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