Audio visual consent form


To tackle some of the challenges our target audience faces with the existing consent form, we re-designed it in an audio-visual format.

A consent form is a legal document that must be signed by the patient to signify their agreement to a procedure being performed on them and their awareness of the risks involved in doing so. Within the NIIR department at NIMHANS, consent forms are signed at two stages: before the diagnostic angiogram and before any medical intervention or surgery.

Currently, the consent form is only available in English. When a person watches this video what they see on the screen is a version of the consent form in the language of their preference.

The text they see is a direct translation of the English consent form. What they simultaneously hear, however, is a simplified, colloquial narration of the consent form in their preferred language, in order to help them better understand the complex legal and medical terms used in the original.

The section that is being narrated is also highlighted in the written version at the same time so as to ensure that the viewer can keep track of what they are reading.

As the consent forms at NIMHANS are currently only available in English, each time the form needs to be signed, one of the doctors has to sit with the patient and their family and explain each point to the them, sometimes more than once.

Since the form gives the patient information about some of the risks involved in the procedures and the general protocol of the hospital, it is essential for the patient or their family to understand each point to the best of their ability before giving consent.

Very often, the signing of the consent form becomes a time-consuming process due to the complexity of the information. The process is made even more difficult and inefficient if the doctor in question does not speak the same language as the patient or their family.

The lack of consistency and the communication challenges that arise through the course of signing the consent form can often have several serious implications. During one of our visits to NIMHANS, Dr. Hima Pendharkar, a neuroradiologist at the hospital, told us that very often, when the situation is not in favour of the patient, the patient’s family blames the doctors for not informing them about the risks of the procedure. Sometimes they do so because of the emotional stress and trauma they may have undergone, but at times it is because they genuinely never fully understood the terms of the form.

By removing the role that the doctor has to play in the explanation of the consent form, this audio-visual version can help reduce human error thereby increasing efficiency and eliminating miscommunication.

The consent form video can help tackle the challenges that are created by the existing format of the consent form, and thus help the patient or their family member give informed consent for their treatment.

Not only will the content be available to the patient in a language of their preference, in both a visual and audio format, but they will also be able to have a better understanding of the complex information in the form with the help of a simplified narration. This format also enables those patients who cannot read to be able to understand the information by listening to the audio narration.

Most patients’ families, if they can afford the treatment, give consent regardless of the risks and complications and even if they have not understood all that the consent form details, a situation we have also had the chance to observe at the NIIR department. When the Kannada version of the audiovisual consent form was being tested with a patient’s family however, Manasi noticed that watching the video seemed to encourage the family to ask the nurse questions, which has not been a usual occurrence.

“You all did a very good thing by making audio visual consent forms, finally the patients and their families will understand what they are giving consent for and what the possible outcomes could be irrespective of whether they can read or not”

- Nurses from the DSA Department at NIMHANS