The Patient, the Provider, and the Form? Re-Imagining Informed Consent

Christopher Trudeau, JD | Salon 2

Professor, Western Michigan University, Cooley Law School



Informed consent is broken—both as a legal doctrine and as an ethical obligation. Too often, providers hide behind the wall of traditional, hard-to-read informed consent forms. You can’t blame them. After all, it’s their lawyers that tell them to use these forms to legally protect their interests. As a result, patients are forced to read forms that tell them their risks and alternatives, rather than having a mutual conversation with their providers. But a harmony can be achieved.

This session will start by discussing the various legal standards for informed consent. Then it will examine the traditional, hard-to-read form through the lens of a patient with low health literacy. Finally, it will discuss a new, re-imagined form that both protects the provider’s legal interests and fosters the conversation between patient and provider. It can be done. Come see how.


Learning objectives:

  • Evaluate an informed consent form to determine if it is difficult for a patient with low health literacy to understand
  • Describe the attributes of a clear, user-friendly informed consent form that fosters a discussion between patients and provider



Improving communication