As federal and state COVID-19 mandates begin to relax, physician practices that closed temporarily are beginning to reopen and see patients again. With new and returning patients, many physicians have considered adding language to informed consent discussions and forms regarding the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission. Others have considered asking not only patients for a signed COVID-19 waiver/consent form, but also visitors and vendors coming to the facility.
At this point, TMLT has not adopted a stance on whether or not physicians should use written waivers/consent forms for COVID-19.
However, TMLT’s Risk Management Department offers the following recommendations for adopting COVID-19 considerations in your informed consent process.
- First, weigh the risks of performing an elective procedure versus the risks of COVID-19 transmission. Document your reasoning for not performing a procedure due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the patient record. If you choose to move forward, include your clinical judgment for proceeding with the procedure at this time.
- When considering whether to proceed with treatment or surgery, evaluate the risks in your community, current COVID-19 transmission rates, and the availability of PPE and resources.
- Before all procedures, discuss the potential risks of contracting COVID-19 with the patient. Also document the shared decision-making process, including the details of the COVID-19 consent discussion. This is a good opportunity to answer any questions and educate your patients on COVID-19 transmission and best practices. Supply patients with current information from the CDC and your local and state health departments.
- Review and share with patients the current perioperative COVID-19 screening and testing guidelines, such as the ASA and APSF Joint Statement on Perioperative Testing for the COVID-19 Virus.
- If appropriate, document that the patient was given the choice to defer treatment, and that they decided to proceed (or not).
- Review your specialty society’s recommendations regarding use of a waiver or consent language related to COVID-19. Some societies, such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, have developed waiver/consent language for practices to use.
- Consult with your legal counsel to discuss the development of specific waiver, if desired.
Read more about reopening your practice on TMLT’s Resource Hub.