Does Your Informed Consent Talk Need a Glow-Up?
Dr. Hermine Warren (DNP) is on a mission to improve informed consent. With nearly 18 years of aesthetic practice under her belt, she’s had ample opportunity to gauge what patients do and don’t know about aesthetic procedures—she also wrote her dissertation on the subject—and she thinks providers have a responsibility to lead a meaningful discussion about any procedure every time a patient comes in. (Yes, even on repeat visits.)
Unlike patients walking into a surgical center for an operation, medspa clients are usually weaving an appointment into a longer list of errands for the day. They’re focused on results, not the adverse reaction warnings they receive before their treatments, and they often sign waivers without reading the fine print.
It’s an obstacle all healthcare providers face. A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that 40-80% of medical information provided by healthcare practitioners is forgotten immediately, and almost half of the information that is remembered is incorrect.
Dr. Warren’s solution is repetition and consistency. She treats each patient interaction as a blank slate, and spends approximately 15 minutes reviewing the risks and benefits every time a patient comes in.
“You really want to make sure that your patient is truly aware of the benefits, the risks, and the alternatives to every procedure…prior to doing it, and that they really understand what’s going on,” Dr. Warren said.
That requires using everyday words, in addition to medical terminology, to ensure the client understands. Dr. Warren offered “occlusion” as an example.
“When I say to a patient, ‘You can have an occlusion,’ I say, ‘I’m going to explain to you what that means. It means if I get filler into one of your vessels, and the oxygen that would ordinarily flow into that vessel is stopped, that’s a bad thing because it can kill the tissue.’ They get that.”
But informed consent goes beyond Dr. Warren’s personal approach to client care. All providers have a medical and legal responsibility to make sure the client understands the treatment they’re receiving.
“You want to make sure that every patient that comes in is truly informed,” Dr. Warren said. “I’m giving the patient the tools; I’m protecting them. I don’t want them doing something [if] they have no idea what they’re doing. I don’t want that kind of trust in me because it’s fake trust.”
Your Informed Consent Cheat Sheet
If you’re ready to overhaul your informed consent review, consider this list your cheat sheet. Every informed consent talk should include:
- An explanation of the procedure
- The risks of what could go wrong
- Any off-label use of products (including injected areas that may be off-label)
- Before and after photography permission
- Confirmation that the client is not pregnant
- A review of the client’s allergies and neurological diseases
- Anticipated results
- Client’s consent to a good faith medical exam
- Confirmation of the client’s consent to the procedure
Injecting is creative. It’s an art form. But the difference between an artist shaping stone or clay and an injector contouring a face is monumental—because the injector’s medium has to give consent.
Even the most talented providers need the occasional informed consent refresh. Give your pre-treatment process the glow-up it needs so you can get back to the business of delivering beautiful results.