The process of obtaining informed consent from a patient is among the thorniest legal issues an otolaryngologist faces when managing surgical procedures. However, Jeffrey Wolf, MD, believes the process can be easy to start; specifically, he recommends that physicians begin by looking a patient in the eye, at his or her level.
“Something I always do when I’m talking to a patient about surgery … I always sit down,” said Dr. Wolf, associate professor and associate chair of clinical practice of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “I’m never standing; I never want them to feel like I’m rushed. I always sit down, because if you sit down for two minutes, they feel like you spent a lot more time with them than if you stood up.”
Time and effort might be the two most important factors in establishing a rapport with a patient that helps ensure that the informed consent process works as intended, Dr. Wolf said. And informed consent is just that—a process that needs to be honed to make sure patients are truly informed.