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Can J Anaesth. 2000 Nov;47(11):1068-73.

Informed consent for labour epidurals: what labouring women want to know.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Queen's University, Kingston General Hospital, Ontario, Canada.



To determine A) what a labouring woman expects to hear about epidural analgesia before consenting, B) if she feels able to understand the risks and thereby assess if we are obtaining informed consent.


Sixty actively labouring women were surveyed immediately after requesting an epidural. Demographic, labour, epidural and consent information were included in the questionnaire. Answers were categorical (yes/no, multiple choice) or scored on a scale from 0 to 10 (visual analogue scale).


The majority of parturients wanted all potential epidural complications but not their incidences disclosed in the consent process. However, a discussion of risks would not dissuade women from consenting to an epidural in the majority of cases. Labouring women have a moderate understanding of epidural risks. The ability to understand risks was not affected by labour pain, anxiety, opioid premedication, duration of labour pain, desire for an epidural, previous epidural experience, level of education or age.


This prospective survey characterizes what 60 reasonable labouring women wanted to know about labour epidural analgesia. Parturients wanted all risks of epidural analgesia disclosed in the informed consent process. The majority of women did not want the incidences quoted. This study suggests that labouring patients are as able to give informed consent as are other members of our patient population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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