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In your dental practice, you routinely let patients know the risks of the procedures, the alternative options available to them, and the risks of no treatment. However, do you verbally explain these things to patients or do you ask patients to sign a written informed consent form? The answer is most probably verbal.
So why do we not use written informed consents more often? Most commonly, it is due to our apprehension that the forms will scare patients, who may then refuse or shy away from treatment. However, think of this, if you have a clear document with the patient's name and signature on it, there is written proof that the patient was properly informed, and you do not have to rely on your memory or written notes that the patient could have claimed you inserted later or without his/her knowledge. Patients are used to signing informed consents whenever they have treatment in a hospital. It has also been my experience that patients who believe they have been well informed regarding their options and who have had their questions answered by the dentist are more compliant with treatment.
In today's increasingly digital world with well-informed patients visiting your practice, it is imperative that the informed consent discussion takes place. Good recordkeeping, good communication, and providing good care are equally important to avoid informed refusal by the patient!