Infringement of the right to surgical informed consent: negligent disclosure and its impact on patient trust in surgeons at public general hospitals – the voice of the patient

Infringement of the right to surgical informed consent: negligent disclosure and its impact on patient trust in surgeons at public general hospitals – the voice of the patient
Research Article
Gillie Gabay, Yaarit Bokek-Cohen
BMC Medical Ethics, 28 October 2019; 20(77)
Open Access
Abstract
Background
There is little dispute that the ideal moral standard for surgical informed consent calls for surgeons to carry out a disclosure dialogue with patients before they sign the informed consent form. This narrative study is the first to link patient experiences regarding the disclosure dialogue with patient-surgeon trust, central to effective recuperation and higher adherence.
Methods
Informants were 12 Israelis (6 men and 6 women), aged 29–81, who underwent life-saving surgeries. A snowball sampling was used to locate participants in their initial recovery process upon discharge.
Results
Our empirical evidence indicates an infringement of patients’ right to receive an adequate disclosure dialogue that respects their autonomy. More than half of the participants signed the informed consent form with no disclosure dialogue, and thus felt anxious, deceived and lost their trust in surgeons. Surgeons nullified the meaning of informed consent rather than promoted participants’ moral agency and dignity.
Discussion
Similarity among jarring experiences of participants led us to contend that the conduct of nullifying surgical informed consent does not stem solely from constraints of time and resources, but may reflect an underlying paradox preserving this conduct and leading to objectification of patients and persisting in paternalism. We propose a multi-phase data-driven model for informed consent that attends to patients needs and facilitates patient trust in surgeons.
Conclusions
Patient experiences attest to the infringement of a patient’s right to respect for autonomy. In order to meet the prima facie right of respect for autonomy, moral agency and dignity, physicians ought to respect patient’s needs. It is now time to renew efforts to avoid negligent disclosure and implement a patient-centered model of informed consent.

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