Consent Related Error

Medical Error has been defined as “failed processes that are clearly linked to adverse outcomes” (AMA – Hofer et al. 2000). Typically, when we think of medical errors, our minds turn to medical procedures. However, if we consider that informed consent is a process, and then when not done properly, adverse outcomes are likely to ensue – then there are a whole category of medical errors that we have not been paying much attention to. Consent related errors refer to any element of informed consent being done inappropriately. Inappropriate may refer to expectations of consent related elements (e.g. test for capacity) where no such element is required, or it may refer to misinterpretation of a consent related element (e.g. interpreting a patient value to constitute a prior expressed wish). Most distressing are consent related items that are simply ignored (e.g. obtaining consent from the wrong person). It is because there are so many ways in which consent can be erroneously applied to a patient, that we have created the HCQC.