Massachusetts Eye & Ear

Semester: 2019 Spring

Students: Denise Schlickbernd & Parker White

Massachusetts Eye and Ear is a teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School that combines the expertise of highly specialized ophthalmology and otolaryngology physicians, audiologists, speech-language pathologists. The Division of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery is part of one of the largest head and neck oncology centers in New England.

Informed consent is a critical and required part of surgical care. Clear communication of the benefits, risks, alternative options, and expectations related to surgery should be communicated to facilitate shared medical decision-making between patients and surgeons. Despite the importance of informed consent discussions, miscommunications are not uncommon. This project will examine the informed consent process for major mucosal ablative surgery for head and neck cancer patients, providing important insights into a complex but instrumental aspect of surgical treatment. It will require multi-dimensional assessment, integration of several different stakeholders perspectives, creative thinking, and dialogue facilitation in order to define next steps.

Activities & Deliverables

  • Project scope includes perioperative time points, beginning with the preoperative visit through surgery  and ending at postoperative follow up;
  • Assessment of clinic documentation and consent documents to understand how preoperative discussions and consent are recorded from the surgeon perspective;
  • Stakeholder interviews, patient and family interviews, and literature review;
  • Summary document with evaluation of current preoperative consent process, stakeholder perspectives, current strengths/weaknesses in process, and 3-5 concrete recommendations for next steps;
  • Presentation to the Division of Head and Neck Surgery.
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