Informed Written Consent for Orthopaedic Trauma in the Emergency Setting at a Tertiary Referral Centre: A Closed-Loop Audit

Informed Written Consent for Orthopaedic Trauma in the Emergency Setting at a Tertiary Referral Centre: A Closed-Loop Audit
Original Article
Martin S. Davey, Matthew G. Davey, Kunal Mohan, Conor S. O’Driscoll, Colin G. Murphy
Cureus, 11 November 2021; 13(11)
Abstract
Introduction
The purpose of this investigation was to perform an audit of the standards of consent forms in which patients sign prior to operative intervention for orthopaedic trauma in an emergency setting in our institution, with comparison to the ‘Orthopaedic Surgical Consent’ standards, as set by the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). If required, the investigator aimed to close the loop in this audit by educating orthopaedic surgeons on the necessary standards of obtaining written consent for orthopaedic trauma.
Methods
Following being granted approval by our institutional audit committee, a pre-intervention cycle was performed to assess the quality of consent obtained in written format using electronic patient records in consecutive patients over a four-week period. Following the analysis of this data, an education session was provided for all orthopaedic doctors responsible for obtaining informed written consent from patients who are planned to undergo operative management of a soft tissue or bony injury by the trauma and orthopaedic service in the emergency setting. Thereafter, a post-intervention cycle was performed with subsequent descriptive analysis using the GraphPad software.
Results
In the pre-intervention audit cycle, all included (n = 107) consent forms (100%) correctly included the patient’s name, date of birth (DOB) and institutional board number (BN). However, only 79 consent forms (74.5%) were completed without using abbreviations or acronyms of any kind, whilst 81 consent forms (76.4%) were completed without correctly stating the side or site of the planned intervention. In the post-intervention cycle, all included (n = 40) consent forms (100%) correctly included the patient’s name, DOB and institutional BN. Additionally, a total of 37 consent forms (92.5%) were correctly completed without using abbreviations or acronyms of any kind (74.5% versus 92.5%, p = 0.02). Furthermore, a total of 39 consent forms (97.5%) were completed correctly stating the side or site of the planned intervention (76.4% versus 97.5%, p = 0.0015).
Conclusion
This closed-loop audit found that the quality of informed consent obtained by orthopaedic surgeons in the emergency setting might potentially be significantly improved with at least one virtual education session. Such simple education sessions may potentially improve the documentation of the planned potential operative intervention by orthopaedic surgeons for cases of orthopaedic trauma to ensure patient safety is optimised. As the turnover of non-consultant hospital doctors is high in university teaching hospitals, regular education sessions on such topics may introduce a cultural shift in maintaining high standards when marking and consenting patients in the emergency setting.

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