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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. Nov 2004; 86(6): 462–464.
PMCID: PMC1964317

'Will you be doing my operation doctor?' Patient attitudes to informed consent.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: As part of the consent process, it is part of a doctor's duty of care to reveal any material risk. Depending upon the level of supervision, whether the operating surgeon is a trainee may be such a risk, but in our experience this is not routinely discussed with patients pre-operatively. We set out to discover patients' attitudes to being operated on by trainee urological surgeons. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 101 completed questionnaires were received from patients (90 male, 11 female, mean age 72 years) undergoing transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT) or cystodiathermy on various aspects of their attitudes to being operated on by junior doctors as part of training. RESULTS: The response rate was 77%. Of the respondents, 94 patients (91%) thought that junior doctors should perform surgery as part of their training. Only 11 of 73 (15%) said they would be happy for a junior doctor, competent to perform the procedure, to operate unsupervised. Of 98 patients, 80 (82%) thought they should be told if the operation was going to be performed by a junior doctor, and 85 (87%) that they should be told their name and designation. CONCLUSIONS: For consent to be 'informed', the experience and identity of the surgeon should be made known to patients. Most patients are happy to be operated on by a junior doctor under consultant supervision, but would want to be told and know their name and status.

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