The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science

Informed Consent
The legal and ethical implications of keeping patients in the dark

The intersection between medicine and law has historically focused on medical error and incorrect diagnoses. The seventh annual Summer Institute for Informed Patient Choice (SIIPC) is trying to change that. In June, legal professionals, clinicians, academics and policymakers will convene on Dartmouth College's campus in Hanover, New Hampshire, to discuss the legal and ethical implications of keeping patients in the dark in medical decision making.

While past institutes have been by invitation-only and have focused on teaching, measurement, and implementation, this year's conference is open to all interested parties and will focus for the first time on the legal aspects of patient engagement.

Many lawmakers and legal professionals have an understanding of malpractice, medical error, and misdiagnosis, but few are thinking about the implications of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.  These parallel health care challenges can be addressed by engaging patients in treatment decisions and integrating decision support in health system encounters.

For three days, participants will hear leaders in their fields discuss topics including how to integrate the patient perspective into medicine and law, prevention of malpractice via transparency, and the revitalization of informed consent law. Speakers from The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Group Health, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, Harvard University, and the Yale School of Medicine, among other institutions, will challenge attendees to consider how these ideas can be incorporated into policy and law.

In addition to more than 20 confirmed speakers on the SIIPC agenda, the institute will include two round-robin style poster presentation sessions and moderated small group working sessions.

Conference Co-Director Glyn Elwyn hopes that attendees will leave with a newly developed legal network of understanding at the forefront of health law and policy.

— Emily Fletcher, TDC Presidential Fellow in Global Health