On 19 October 2022, Patient Line committee members hosted a symposium on spine surgery consent in the 21st century for the very first time. Over 100 spine professionals attended the event in Milan.
The Importance of Obtaining Informed Consent
Patient Line Committee Chair Dr Derek Cawley opened the symposium by setting the stage for a discussion on the importance of obtaining informed consent from patients and the impact of technology on the consent process. The speakers addressed the need for a patient-centred approach to consent, including personalized video recordings, easy-to-understand information materials and dialogue.
Personalized Video Recordings for Patient-Centred Consent
For Gerard Mawhinney, Consultant Nurse from from Oxford University Hospitals, the essence of consent is in the conversation. He explained how this vital evidence gets documented today via a personalized video consent recording tool, which also helps to include family members who cannot join the patient in the hospital.
The Role of the Surgical Team in Obtaining Informed Consent
Through a case study, Dr Marco Teli focused on the role of the surgical team in obtaining informed consent and the importance of easy-to-understand documentation for patients and their families. According to Teli, we're moving to a more tailored approach of a patient-centred consent process across cultural differences and generations. For Teli, it's also crucial to check in with patients to ensure they understand everything before making a decision. In summary, he said: "Consent is a continuum, not a point in time. It's a process."
A Neurosurgeon's Personal Story of Consent
During the symposium, Dr Triantafyllos Bouras, Neurosurgeon, shared his personal story of consent for his nine-year-old daughter to undergo scoliosis surgery. Bouras shared: "There's a gap that I tried to fill personally for my family, as consent is all about information. There's a lot in between the doctor who provides and the patient who receives the information."
The Evolution of Consent Process to a Patient-Tailored Approach
Obtaining informed consent is an essential aspect of spine surgery. It ensures that the patient is fully informed about the procedure and its potential risks and benefits and can make an informed decision. To help find that balance between patient needs and patient understanding, today's consent process is changing from a more statistical basis to a patient-tailored approach.
Cawley concluded: "Big thank you to our Patient Line committee members for preparing this first symposium together, to our guest speakers for sharing their stories and personal testimonials, bringing in so much humanity in this discussion, and of course, thank you to all our participants."