Integris Heart Hospital doctors are testing a high-tech consent form for patients considering angioplasty. A computer program draws from a database of 600,000 patients around the country to better predict individual risks and benefits of the procedure.
Angioplasty is used to open blocked or narrowed heart arteries and is generally safe but can lead to heart attack, stroke or bleeding. The new process replaces one-size-fits-all forms that were used primarily as a legal formality. The high-tech version uses simple language and illustrations to explain procedures, while mathematically predicting the risk of complications based on individual characteristics. One recent patient said she was reassured after learning she had less than 1 percent chance of bleeding and virtually no chance of death from angioplasty. "This is tailored precisely to the patient, and this is what makes it unique,” said Dr. Charles Bethea. Integris is the first of five hospitals nationally to participate in a study of the program funded by the American Heart Association and National Institutes for Health. The forms also will be used at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.