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Informed consent: are basic surgical trainees meeting the standards?

Introduction  Informed consent has been gaining increased importance in the medical profession over recent years. To ensure good practice the government and General Medical Council (GMC) have published new guidelines including a consent form.A recent survey in our trust demonstrated that over50% of the consent for general surgical cases was performed by senior house officers (SHOs). We undertook a telephone survey of all the SHOs on the general surgical on-call rota at the three hospitals within the trust, to ascertain the level of knowledge and consenting practice. We also asked what they would record for serious or frequently occurring risks for seven general surgical procedures on the consent form.Results Fourteen SHOs were questioned, only five had read the GMC guidelines on consent and three the government document. Four claimed they had training on the consent procedure and only one could quote the risk figures for their consultant. The majority were missing much of the morning ward round consenting cases. There was some confusion on what constitutes patient risk when consenting, and of the seven procedures the majority of consent would fall below acceptable practice in discussingpotential risks. Conclusion This survey has highlighted that procedure-specific consent forms are necessary and that training for SHOs in consent needsto be more rigorous. Procedure-specific consent forms would also aid the consent process and ensure a more uniform process. Mechanisms may also need to be put in place to fit this additional role on to a grade that already has many commitments within the firm.


T Lloyd

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