Informed Consent for Cardiac Procedures: Deficiencies in Patient Comprehension With Current Methods

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Abstract

Background.

Patients who undergo cardiac catheterization or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) often have a poor understanding of their disease and of related therapeutic risks, benefits, and alternatives. This pilot study was undertaken to compare the effectiveness of 2 preprocedural educational approaches to enhance patients' knowledge of standard consent elements.

Methods.

Patients undergoing first-time elective, outpatient cardiac catheterization and possible PCI were randomly assigned to a scripted verbal or written consent process (group I) or a web-based, audiovisual presentation (group II). Preconsent and postconsent questionnaires were administered to evaluate changes in patients' self-reported understanding of standard consent elements.

Results.

One hundred and two patients enrolled at a single institution completed the pre- and postconsent surveys (group I=48; group II=54). Changes in patient comprehension rates were similar between groups for risk and benefit consent elements, but group II had significantly greater improvement in the identification of treatment alternatives than group I (p= 0.028). Independent of intervention, correct identification of all risks and alternatives increased significantly after consent (p< 0.05); 4 of 5 queried risks were correctly identified by greater than 90% of respondents. However, misperceptions of benefits persisted after consent; increased survival and prevention of future myocardial infarction were identified as PCI-related benefits by 83% and 46% of respondents, respectively.

Conclusions.

Although both scripted verbal and audiovisual informed consent improved patient comprehension, important patient misperceptions regarding PCI-related outcomes and alternatives persist, independent of informed consent approach, and considerable challenges still exist in educating patients about contemplated medical procedures. Future research appears warranted to improve patient comprehension.

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