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Canadian Journal of Surgery -

Informed consent for surgery: risk discussion and documentation

Informed consent for surgery: risk discussion and documentation

Can J Surg 2017;60(1):69-70 | PDF

Melissa Hanson, MD; Dennis Pitt, MD


Informed consent for surgery has become a critical component of surgical practice. There are specific legal requirements for what has to be disclosed to patients and for the accompanying documentation. The hospital consent for surgery form with the patient’s signature is a small part of the process. A quality assurance review of the documentation of informed consent by our surgical group indicated major deficiencies and prompted this article (and its Appendix containing further information). Our intent was to inform surgeons about modern standards and to discuss particular challenges. Informed consent for surgery entails what surgeons communicate to their patients about the proposed surgery and is a key element in the trust patients have in surgeons. It is of increasing importance, and we must keep up to date with patient and legal expectations.

Accepted Aug. 3, 2016

Affiliations: From the Department of Surgery, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ont.

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.004816

Correspondence to: D. Pitt, Department of Surgery, The Ottawa Hospital, 501 Smyth Rd, Box 202, Ottawa ON K1H 8L6; dpitt@ottawahospital.on.ca