BACKGROUND: Literature suggests that patient-informing process prior to obtaining surgical informed consent (SIC) does not function well. This study aimed to provide insight into the current practice of SIC in the Netherlands.
METHODS: This is a prospective, observational, and multicenter study, conducted in one academic and two non-academic teaching hospitals in the Netherlands. Audio recordings were made during outpatient consultations with patients presenting with Dupuytren Disease. The recorded informing process was scored according to a checklist. Written documentation of the SIC process in the patient's chart was compared to these scored checklists. Time spent on SIC during the consultations was also recorded.
RESULTS: A total of 41 outpatient consultations were included in the study. Consultations were conducted by 25 plastic surgeons and their residents. Average time spent on SIC was 55.6% of the total consultation time. Considerable variation was observed concerning the amount and type of information given and discussed. In 59% of the consultations, discrepancies were observed between written documentation of consultations and audio recordings. Information on treatment risks, the postoperative period, and the operating surgeon was addressed the least.
CONCLUSION: Despite a relatively large part of the consultation time being spent on SIC, patients received scarce information concerning treatment risks, postoperative period, and who their operating surgeon would be. Discrepancies were observed between the written documentation of SIC and information recorded on the audio recordings. This occurred predominantly in one hospital that used a pre-made list of 'discussed information' in its digital patient chart.