How often must patients sign consent forms

September 1, 2006

Do patients at the urgent care center where I work need to sign "consent to treatment" forms every time we see them? Or can we just keep a copy of their first consent on file to cover subsequent visits?

Q: Do patients at the urgent care center where I work need to sign "consent to treatment" forms every time we see them? Or can we just keep a copy of their first consent on file to cover subsequent visits?

A: Generally, a copy of the patient's initial consent is fine if the treatment is noninvasive. However, if you intend to perform an invasive procedure, or if the nature of your treatment changes significantly, you should have the patient sign a new form.

Legal precedent and state law can determine the required standard for informed consent. And if your urgent care center is owned by a hospital, then that institution may have protocols governing when you must obtain the patient's consent. So check the rules at your location. When in doubt, it's best to have the patient sign the form.