Editorial - ZZI 02/2017

Patient’s Informed Consent – can a patient information and consent form or a software replace the physician-patient dialog?

Patient’s Informed Consent – can a patient information and consent form or a software replace the physician-patient dialog?

Of course, one can proceed on the assumption that the majority of colleagues aim at doing an excellent job and demonstrating a great deal of responsibility vis-à-vis their patients. From the viewpoint of the treating physician, it therefore seems to be to a certain extent difficult to understand which requirements we have to fulfil with regard to informing the patient. Dramatic judgements at courts are frequently mentioned in the scope of discussions at conferences in which, in some respects, absurd patient information is requested. And in addition thereto new laws governing patient’s rights are enacted, representing new challenges for us doctors and dentists. Some colleagues even feel themselves quasi criminalised. In particular, in the field of implantology, with the multitude of various different therapy alternatives and a frequently elective treatment, special significance is attributed to patient information. This is even more the case, as financial consequences can affect the patient personally.

On the part of DGI, we therefore believe that the time has come for us to focus on the idea of our members and to shed some light on the issue of patient information.

Of course, every one of us would like to have a binding checklist to „work through“ and thus to fulfil all requirements specified in the patient information. Alternatively, it would perhaps be nice to have an App to hand over to the patient which would so-to-speak provide the patient with a comprehensive information. If you, however, take into account that patient information naturally comprises a physician-patient dialog which is tuned to individual requirements, it thus becomes clear that none of these forms is able to replace the individual physician-patient dialog. In addition thereto, it is necessary to inform the patient of typical risks in particular in connection with the specific intervention. Such can only be discussed based on the patient’s individual case. The patient information aims at covering typical risks in connection with the respective intervention which may arise suddenly from the viewpoint of the non-professional and even impair the patient’s lifestyle. Special significance is naturally attributed to this requirement, if various therapy alternatives are available. Thus, the elderly, sick patient will evaluate operative risks from a totally different viewpoint than a young patient. And the risk of a possible nerve lesion will also be most probably evaluated from different viewpoints, depending on the professional background.

In particular in view of various different therapy alternatives, for example, „short implants versus bone augmentation and long implant“, a central significance is thus attributed to informing patients of alternatives. And last but not least, the scope of patient information and furthermore granting the patient an appropriate time for consideration has to be seen in relation to the urgency of the surgical intervention. Within the scope of emergency treatment, without therapy alternatives, there will surely be other requirements with regard to patient information differing from those within the scope of elective treatments which might also contain a variety of different therapy alternatives.

Special significance is therefore attributed to the physician-patient dialog, which has not changed as a result of the new laws governing patient’s rights. Within the scope of the summer symposium we have addressed the desire of our members to shed light on this field of patient information and to make it legally compliant. We would therefore like to take the opportunity to invite you to take part in this special event and to actively discuss this issue with us. Our aim is to ensure that patient information will no longer be seen as a spectre, but will enable constructive work in taking care of our patients.


Prof. Dr. Dr. Bilal Al-Nawas