Think you’re the only hospital that has a paper problem when comes to Informed Consents? Think again.

According to an Access poll of clinicians from more than 1,700 providers, more than 8 in 10 respondents said their hospital is completely paper-based when it comes to Informed Consents.

With so many health care providers still relying on paper versions instead of electronic medical forms, you may be wondering, is this a problem that really needs to be addressed?

The answer? A resounding “yes”.

To learn about the seven ways paper-based Informed Consents cause big problems for your hospital, read on or watch this video.  Also, we've created an awesome resource to help you build a Clinical eConsent Business Case.



  1. Rogue forms

    A hospital that’s used paper-based Informed Consents for decades is bound to have a lot of consents in circulation. They’re also likely a bit unwieldy to manage because hospitals over run with multiple versions often create new paper forms instead of consolidating the old ones.

  2. Missing forms

    You know the scene: The patient is prepped and ready. The care team is going through the perioperative checklist. When they get to the “informed consent obtained” requirement, though, the paper form is nowhere to be found.

    Or, a patient signs the paper Informed Consent in the surgeon’s office. It’s then sent to the hospital by fax, hand delivery or snail mail. All ample opportunities for a form to be lost in the abyss of a hospital’s paper shuffle.

    Missing forms are maddening. They also lead to the next problem on the list ….

  3. Costly delays  

    When forms go missing in the OR, surgeries are delayed and revenue is lost. It’s a financial model no hospital aspires to. But according to JAMA, it happens far too often.

    The journal reports that an average of 14 percent of OR procedures are delayed as a result of missing Informed Consents. Additionally, when delays happen, research shows the average wait time is 22 minutes and costs a conservative $60 for every lost minute.

    Here’s an example of what that looks like: If a hospital does 10,000 surgeries a year, 1,400 will likely be delayed an average of 22 minutes due to missing paper Informed Consents. That translates to 30,800 minutes and at a rate of $60 a minute, a loss of more than $1.8 million. For one year. All because of lost paper forms.
  4. Cascading delays

    Just one delayed surgery has a ripple effect on the rest of the day. The surgeries that follow in the same OR are also often behind because of their late start. This problem is common enough that many hospitals budget nursing overtime hours in anticipation of it happening. 

  5. Staff frustration  

    Surgery is a complicated endeavor that requires organization, preparation and precision. It’s frustrating to the entire medical team when these efforts are thwarted by missing hospital forms.

  6. Lower patient satisfaction

    Patient stress levels run high when they’re waiting for surgery on a gurney dressed in nothing more than a thin hospital gown. Admitting to a patient that their procedure is delayed because their paper-based consent is lost, doesn’t exactly ease anxiety or instill confidence in the medical team. Scenarios like these can ding HCHAP scores and your hospital’s reputation.

  7. Greater risk  

    Paper-based forms can expose your hospital to unnecessary risk around day of surgery Informed Consents. This keeps surgeons up at night because ultimately, it’s malpractice exposure.

    If a patient’s paper-based Informed Consent is missing and you obtain a new one on surgery day, two things could happen that put your organization at risk.

    First, if someone who isn’t completely familiar with the procedure obtains the patient’s Informed Consent, they may not explain the procedure and its risks as well as the surgeon. The patient then isn’t completely informed and can’t give their “informed consent” at that time.

    Second, the argument could be made that a patient was stressed on the day of surgery and unable to fully digest the nature of the procedure or the potential risks. Therefore, they couldn’t truly give their “informed consent”.

Paper Informed Consents can cause pain for your hospital. But with an eForms solution, your organization avoid these seven issues and boost everything from revenue to patient and clinician satisfaction. Want to learn more? Contact us.

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Cody Strate

Written by Cody Strate

For more than 15 years, Cody has provided sales and marketing leadership with the goal of providing the smoothest, easiest, and most pleasurable customer experience imaginable. Cody is a Forbes Communication Council member and lives in Colorado with his wife, two kids, and two dogs.