TMA Objects to Consent Form Changes
By Joey Berlin


The Texas Medical Association has issued strong opposition to proposed amendments to the Texas Medical Disclosure Panel’s (TMDP’s) medical and surgical procedure form, saying they could “inject uncertainty into the informed consent process and thereby increase the likelihood of litigation.”

TMDP decides which risks and hazards related to medical care or surgical procedures practitioners must disclose to patients or their authorized representatives before a procedure happens. In the Sept. 21 edition of the Texas Register, TMDP proposed amendments to its disclosure and consent form for medical and surgical procedures, as well as amendments to its form for a hysterectomy.

TMA has no objection to the proposal for the hysterectomy form. But the medical and surgical procedure form is another story. TMA is concerned that those proposed amendments “contain substantive modifications to the form: (1) without any explanation that justifies the need or intent of those modifications, and (2) with insufficient consideration of the potential impact of those changes on health care liability costs,” TMA President Doug Curran, MD, told the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in the association’s letter.

Seeing “serious … potential unintended consequences of this rule proposal,” TMA asked TMDP to pull the proposal and convene a stakeholder meeting before proposing any amendments.

Some of TMA’s objections to the proposed new form include:

  • The use of the word “doctor” rather than “physician” throughout the form, which departs from the terms used in state law and could confuse a patient into believing it refers to a nonphysician “doctor,” such as a chiropractor; 
  • Proposed new fill-in-the-blank language in the first paragraph of the form, which TMA is concerned will “be a great source of confusion” and increase litigation on informed consent; and
  • A new proposed heading titled “Risks Related to this Treatment/Procedure,” which includes new statements not in TMDP’s current form such as, “I understand that risks may or may not happen with this treatment/procedure.” TMA says that language “seems to minimize the risks that are being disclosed and may give the patient the mistaken impression that if a risk actually does occur it is due to the physician or health care provider’s performance of the procedure, rather than a risk inherent in the procedure.”

 TMA’s letter also stresses the need for a transition period to the new form if TMDP adopts it over TMA’s objections. 

TMDP says it will review comments it receives at its next meeting on Dec. 7. View the current medical and surgical procedure form here.


Last Updated On

October 31, 2018

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1393

Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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