​When you visit a physician’s office, hospital or medical laboratory for tests you are always asked to fill out a bunch of forms.  Most of us never read these forms completely and rush through them in the hope that the sooner we return them to the receptionist, the sooner we will be seen for our procedure.

One of the forms signed was an informed consent that lists all the benefits and risks of the treatment or test you were about to undergo. In dental offices, we are supposed to adhere to informed consent principles by letting patients know the risks of the procedures, the alternative options available to them and the risk of no treatment whatsoever.

Do you verbally go through the options with patients?  Do you give them a written informed consent?  In most dental offices, the answer is probably no.

Informed consent

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© Gary Inglese

Why aren’t written informed consent forms used in dental offices?  The number one reason expressed by practitioners is that the forms will scare patients, who will decide to forego treatments and drive acceptance rates down.  It is my contention that this assumption is furthest from the truth.

Offices that use written forms have them customized for every patient and every treatment situation.  The entire process takes just a few minutes and the informed consent saves time because the offices let the form tell the patient the risk associated with their treatment.  The office now has written proof that each patient was properly informed and it makes treatment much less stressful.

Every patient should sign an informed consent for every procedure.  Patients are used to signing informed consents anywhere else they have treatment.  Having a firm informed consent policy will save you money, time and stress.  It lets patients know that you are a true health care professional.  

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