Surgical Residents’ Perspective on Informed Consent—How Does It Compare With Attending Surgeons?

Surgical Residents’ Perspective on Informed Consent—How Does It Compare With Attending Surgeons?
Sarah B. Jochum, Mandakini Venkatramani, Ethan M. Ritz, Joanne Favuzza, Dana M. Hayden, Theodore J. Saclarides, Anuradha R. Bhama
Journal of Surgical Research, April 2021, 260; pp 88-94
Abstract
Background
The informed consent discussion (ICD) is a compulsory element of clinical practice. Surgical residents are often tasked with obtaining informed consent, but formal instruction is not included in standard curricula. This study aims to examine attitudes of surgeons and residents concerning ICD.
Materials and methods
A survey regarding ICD was administered to residents and attending surgeons at an academic medical center with an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–accredited general surgery residency.
Results
In total, 44 of 64 (68.75%) residents and 37 of 50 (72%) attending surgeons participated. Most residents felt comfortable consenting for elective (93%) and emergent (82%) cases, but attending surgeons were less comfortable with resident-led ICD (51% elective, 73% emergent). Resident comfort increased with postgraduate year (PGY) (PGY1 = 39%, PGY5 = 85%). A majority of participants (80% attending surgeons, 73% residents) believed resident ICD skills should be formally evaluated, and most residents in PGY1 (61%) requested formal instruction. High percentages of residents (86%) and attendings (100%) believed that ICD skills were best learned from direct observation of attending surgeons.
Conclusions
Resident comfort with ICD increases as residents advance through training. Residents acknowledge the importance of their participation in this process, and in particular, junior residents believe formal instruction is important. Attending surgeons are not universally comfortable with resident-led ICDs, particularly for elective surgeries. Efforts for improving ICD education including direct observation between attending surgeons and residents and formal evaluation may benefit the residency curriculum.

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