#Providenciales, September 19, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – InterHealth Canada – Turks and Caicos Islands Hospital hosted a Medical Ethics Symposium for nearly 70 health care professionals at the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on September 14th, 2018 under the theme “Informed Consent – Recommended Best Practices.”
Informed consent is based on the moral and legal premise of patient autonomy and their right to make decisions about a particular treatment or test with an understanding of the risks and benefits. The symposium was developed to exchange knowledge on the latest best practices, common challenges and pitfalls associated with soliciting informed consent from patients.
Claire Horner, a Clinical Ethicist, Lawyer and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine gave a keynote presentation. Horner stressed that informed consent is a process and not simply a form. This process involves several critical elements including disclosure of information, effective documentation, a patient’s right to refuse treatment and exceptions to the informed consent rule in cases of emergency, incapacity, waiver or therapeutic privilege.
The presentation provided an overview of the ethics of informed consent, shared decision-making, cognitive biases, decision aids, the difficulties associated with hard cases and what health care professionals should avoid. Other speakers based at the medical facility included Dr. Henry Blythe, General Practitioner who provided a regional perspective in partnership with Dr. Dionne Ranglin-Robinson, Anesthesiologist, who evaluated several key findings from a unique study on informed consent. The event was chaired by TCI Hospital Chief of Medical Services, Dr. Denise Braithwaite-Tennant.
Advance healthcare directives, or a living will that pre-documents a patient’s wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life or incapacitation is a growing practice in many jurisdictions. Persons are encouraged to make decisions ahead of time so their care is aligned with their preferences and/or nominate a relative or friend to be their alternate decision maker in cases where informed consent is required.
During the visit to the medical facility, Horner also conducted a special CME session and reviewed the hospital’s current policies and standards of practice related to informed consent. The expert’s recommendations will be used to further strengthen the existing framework. Other areas examined included practices related to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Orders and the withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Care. The symposium is held every two years, and is extended to health care practitioners from across the country to promote standardized practices across community medical facilities to benefit the patient’s continuum of care.
Commenting on the symposium, Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee at TCI Hospital, Dr. Henry Blythe said: “Informed consent represents one of the major tenets of medical ethics. This consent may be in the form of a consent document, verbal or implied. There are some cases that require written consent such as invasive procedures. It is important for our staff to be knowledgeable of the different scenarios where each of these cases apply. As part of our quality improvement, we want patients to become more involved in their care. It is okay to ask why, or disagree with a proposed treatment. It is important to require full disclosure. Medical care should no longer be approached in a paternalistic manner and patients have the right to question their care.”