Health officials in Washington State are probing whether more actively involving patients in decision making will help improve patient care and satisfaction and perhaps lower costs associated with certain elective medical procedures.
In 2007, the state passed legislation that officially recognized shared decision making as a high standard of informed consent. The law also required a demonstration project, which is now under way, to gauge the effects of this model of informed consent for treating patients with “preference-sensitive conditions” that have multiple options for care. The project includes such conditions as osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, low back pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroids, benign prostatic hyperplasia, chronic stable angina, early-stage breast cancer, and breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
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The rate of elective surgeries such as knee replacement varies geographically. To reduce such unwarranted variation, some states are proposing methods to better educate patients about treatment options.
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