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RISK TIP: Procedure-Specific Informed Consent

Procedure-specific consent forms are essential to document patient understanding of the unique risks and potential benefits of bariatric surgery.

One of the significant drivers of bariatric surgery-related litigation from the plaintiff’s viewpoint is a lack of information about the risks and benefits of the various possible procedures. Each procedure is different and carries with it unique risks and benefits. Therefore, each procedure should have its own informed consent form describing the surgery in general terms that a layperson can understand. This consent form should lay out the complications that are specific to that particular procedure. The consent form should also indicate any late term nutritional complications that could result from the procedure and the likelihood of their occurrence.

The consent form should also tell patients that complying with the bariatric surgery program’s recommendations is essential for success. Additionally, patients need to have realistic expectations about their potential weight loss. For example, a patient who has an adjustable gastric band should expect to lose less weight than a patient who has a duodenal switch. Expected weight loss may also inform the patient’s choice of operation, and the informed consent process and document should include weight loss expectations for each specific procedure.

Given the complexity of bariatric procedures currently being offered, it is essential that each procedure has a specific and separate informed consent form—one written in language that patients can understand and that includes language regarding compliance with recommendations and the risks of noncompliance. The consent form must address the risks inherent to each unique procedure, define alternatives to the procedure, and include expectations regarding weight loss.

This risk tip is provided as a monthly service to help you avoid lawsuits, negative publicity, and costly insurance claims. We're here for you every step of the way.

DISCLAIMER: Risk Management support provided by OmniSure Consulting Group, LLC is not intended nor should be construed as the rendition of legal advice, nor intended to replace legal advice. Information or documents provided are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to dictate or replace company policy. OmniSure is a separate risk management consulting firm only, not the insurance company or an agent of the insurance company. OmniSure’s Risk Management services are intended to provide best practice recommendations. These services are not intended and should not be deemed to answer any policy coverage questions or warrant compliance with any policy conditions or requirements. For terms and conditions, refer to the policy itself. Coverage is subject to exclusions. All questions regarding coverage or compliance with the terms, conditions or provisions under a policyholder’s professional liability policy should be directed to the policyholder’s insurance agent or broker. Reporting or discussing events with OmniSure will not constitute the reporting of an incident to your carrier, and will not meet the reporting requirements of your policy.

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