An Assessment of the Process of Informed Consent at the University Hospital of the West Indies
Journal of Medical Ethics 2008 May; 34(5): 344-347
OBJECTIVE: To assess the adequacy of the process of informed consent for surgical patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Method: The study is a prospective, cross-sectional, descriptive study. 210 patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies were interviewed using a standardised investigator-administered questionnaire, developed by the authors, after obtaining witnessed, informed consent for participation in the study. Data were analysed using SPSS V.12 for Windows. RESULTS: Of the patients, 39.4% were male. Of the surgical procedures, 68.6% were scheduled, 7.6% urgent and 23.8% emergency, 35.2% were minor and 64.8% major. Information imparted/received was acceptable in 40% of cases, good in 24% and inadequate (unacceptable) in 36% of cases. Almost all (97.6%) patients stated that they understood why an operation was planned and 93.3% thought that they had given informed consent. Most (95.2%) thought that they had free choice and made up their own mind. A quarter (25.2%) of all patients were told that it was mandatory for them to sign the form. There was a discussion of possible side effects and complications in 56.7% of patients. CONCLUSIONS: This study clearly indicates that surgical patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies feel that they have given informed consent. However, it also suggests that more information should be given to patients for consent to be truly informed.
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