Using Informed Consent to Reduce Preventable Medical Errors

10 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2012 Last revised: 5 May 2012

Date Written: March 2, 2012


Recent studies have shown that preventable medical errors kill and seriously injure thousands of Americans each year causing personal tragedy and costing the healthcare system billions of dollars. This article advocates using the informed consent process to provide patients with the information they need to assist in preventing medical errors. Patients and their families are the ideal candidates to reduce medical errors because they are strongly motivated to reduce mistakes and the informed consent process is an efficient vehicle to convey this information because the process is already in place, making it a convenient and inexpensive route to the patient.

This article focuses on chemotherapy and prescription drugs because both areas of practice have very high error rates and, with little effort, patients could have an enormous impact in reducing these errors. The article recommends using provisions in the Affordable Care Act to implement its suggestions and notes that giving patients the additional information they need to help reduce medical mistakes will also result in improved patient compliance with treatment protocols, better patient outcomes, and fewer malpractice claims.

Keywords: informed consent, patient safety, hospital safety, preventable errors, medical mistakes, chemotherapy, prescription drugs, medical malpractice, patient compliance, patient outcomes, PPACA, Affordable Care Act

Suggested Citation

Tenenbaum, Evelyn, Using Informed Consent to Reduce Preventable Medical Errors (March 2, 2012). Annals of Health Law, Vol. 21, 2012, Albany Law School Research Paper No. 46 of 2011-2012, Available at SSRN:

Evelyn Tenenbaum (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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