How to effectively obtain informed consent in trauma patients: a systematic review

BMC Medical Ethics 20 (1):8 (2019)
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Abstract

Obtaining adequate informed consent from trauma patients is challenging and time-consuming. Healthcare providers must communicate complicated medical information to enable patients to make informed decisions. This study aimed to explore the challenges of obtaining valid consent and methods of improving the quality of the informed consent process for surgical procedures in trauma patients. We conducted a systematic review of relevant English-language full-text original articles retrieved from PubMed that had experimental or observational study design and involved adult trauma patients. Studies involving informed consent in clinical or research trials were excluded. Titles and abstracts of searched articles were reviewed and relevant data were extracted with a structured form. Results were synthesized with a narrative approach. A total of 2044 articles were identified in the initial search. Only eight studies were included in the review for narrative synthesis. Six studies involved orthopedic surgeries, one involved nasal bone surgeries, and one involved trauma-related limb debridement. Only one study was conducted in an emergency department. Information recall was poor for trauma patients. Risk recall and comprehension were greater when written or video information was provided than when information was provided only verbally. Patient satisfaction was also greater when both written and verbal information were provided than when verbal information alone was provided; patients who received video information were more satisfied than patients who received written or verbal information. Many articles have been published on the subject of informed consent, but very few of these have focused on trauma patients. More empirical evidence is needed to support the success of informed consent for trauma patients in the emergency department, especially within the necessarily very limited time frame. To improve the informed consent process for trauma patients, developing a structured and standardized informed consent process may be necessary and achievable; its effectiveness would require evaluation. Adequately educating and training healthcare providers to deliver structured, comprehensive information to trauma patients is crucial. Institutions should give top priority to ensuring patient-centered health care and improved quality of care for trauma patients.

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