Making Patient Safer Through Informed Consent

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In May 2003, the National Quality Forum (NQF) published Safe Practices for Better Healthcare, a report specifying 30 evidence-based practices that would substantially reduce the risk of healthcare errors. Among these 30 practices, a practice calling for improved communication in the informed consent process stood out, the NQF says, "because of its cross-cutting relevance across clinical areas, its focus on patient-centered care, and its importance to patients who are particularly vulnerable to receiving poor-quality care and to being exposed to medical errors because of communication barriers."

With Commonwealth Fund support, NQF has published a new report, Improving Patient Safety Through Informed Consent for Patients with Limited Health Literacy, that focuses on what has been learned from providers who adopted a method known as "teach back," which involves asking patients to recount information to demonstrate their level of understanding. The report, is now available online on the NQF Web site. Hard copies of the report can also be ordered through the site. It's hoped the findings will help hospitals overcome barriers to effective informed consent, particularly in treating patients with limited English proficiency or low health literacy.

For other Fund-supported publications about patient safety and improved doctor-patient communication, check out the Related Resources at the right.


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