Informed consent plays a pivotal role in the operative process, and surgeons have an ethical and legal obligation to provide patients with information to allow for shared decision-making. Unfortunately, patient recall after the consent process is frequently poor. This study aims to evaluate the effect of procedure-specific consent forms on patient’s recall four weeks after total hip replacement (THR).
This is a prospective study using a posttest-only control group design. Sixty adult patients undergoing total hip replacement were allocated to be consented using either the generic or the surgery-specific consent form. Four weeks after surgery, a phone interview was conducted to assess patient’s recall of risk of surgical complications.
Patient demographic characteristics and educational attainment were similar in both groups. There was a statistically significant increase in the mean number of risks recalled in the study group at 1.43 compared with 0.67 in the control group (P = 0.0131).
Consent is a complex process, and obtaining informed consent is far from straightforward. A statistically significant improvement in patient’s recall with the use of procedure-specific consent forms was identified, and based on this, we would advocate their use. However, overall patient recall in both groups was poor. We believe that improving the quality of informed consent may require the sum of small gains, and the use of procedure-specific consent forms may aid in this regard.