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Development of a Web-Based Surgical Booking and Informed Consent System to Reduce the Potential for Error and Improve Communication

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Background: The decision to perform an elective procedure often originates during an office visit between surgeon and patient. Several administrative tasks follow, including scheduling or “booking” of the case and obtaining informed consent. These processes require communicating accurate information regarding diagnosis, procedure, and other patient-specific details necessary for the safe and effective performance of an operation. Nonstandardized and paper-based consents pose difficulty with legibility, portability, and consistency, thereby representing a source of potential error and inefficiency. There are numerous barriers to efficiently booking elective surgical procedures and obtaining a legible, complete, and easily retrievable informed consent. An integrated Web-based booking and consent system was developed at a multisite university-affiliated community hospital system to improve the speed and quality of work flow, as well as communication with both the patients and staff.

Methods: A booking and consent system was developed and made available over the intranet. This customized system was created by leveraging existing information systems.

Results: The electronic consent system uses surgeon-specific templates and allows for a consistent approach to each procedure. A printed consent form can be generated at any time from any of the health care system's three campuses and is commonly stored in the electronic medical record. Integration into our perioperative system allows for coordination with the operating room staff, administrative personal, financial coordinators, and central supply. Total systems expenditure for development was estimated at $40,000 (US).

Conclusions: Organizations considering standardizing their own consent and operating room booking processes can review this experience in making their own “make or buy” decision for their own settings.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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