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The changing face of informed surgical consent

  • J C Oosthuizen (a1), P Burns (a1) and C Timon (a1)



To determine whether procedure-specific brochures improve patients' pre-operative knowledge, to determine the amount of information expected by patients during the consenting process, and to determine whether the recently proposed ‘Request for Treatment’ consenting process is viable on a large scale.


A prospective, questionnaire-based study of 100 patients admitted for selected, elective surgical procedures.


In total, 99 per cent of patients were satisfied with the information received in the out-patient department, regarding the proposed procedure. However, 38 per cent were unable to correctly state the nature of the surgery or specific procedure they were scheduled to undergo. Although the vast majority of patients were able to state the intended benefits to be gained from the procedure, only 54 per cent were able to list at least one potential complication, and 80 per cent indicated that they wished to be informed about all potential complications, even if these occurred in less than 1 per cent of cases.


The introduction of procedure-specific brochures improved patients' pre-operative knowledge. Although the failings of current consenting practice are clear, the Request for Treatment consenting process would not appear to be a viable alternative because of the large number of patients unable to accurately recall the nature of the proposed surgery or potential complications, following consent counselling.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr J C Oosthuizen, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, The Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Adelaide Road, Dublin D2, Ireland E-mail:


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The changing face of informed surgical consent

  • J C Oosthuizen (a1), P Burns (a1) and C Timon (a1)


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