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J Clin Ethics. 2015 Winter;26(4):306-11.

Patient Decision Aids: A Case for Certification at the National Level in the United States.

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Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, New Hampshire USA.
Lown Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts USA.
School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario Canada.
Department of Health Services Research, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas USA.
Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina USA.
Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, TDC, 37 DFR, HB7, 2nd Floor, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755 USA,


Patient decision aids enable patients to be better informed about the potential benefits and harms of their healthcare options. Certification of patient decision aids at the national level in the United States is a critical step towards responsible governance-primarily as a quality measure that increases patients' safety, as mandated in the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Certification would provide a verification process to identify conflicts of interest that may otherwise bias the scientific evidence presented in decision aids. Certification also benefits clinicians who may otherwise face malpractice claims based on harm to patients caused by possible reliance on patient decision aids that are inaccurate, incomplete, or presented in a manner that biases the patient's decision. Existing work by the International Patient Decision Aid Standards Collaboration could guide the establishment of a certification process within the U.S. This article argues for national certification of patient decision aids and discusses how that may be achieved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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