To draw or not to draw: Informed consent dilemma

To draw or not to draw: Informed consent dilemma
Research Article
Santovito D, Cena G, Tattoli L, Di Vella G, Bosco C
Health and Primary Care, 14 May 2021
Open Access
Abstract
Background
Informed consent is a worldwide standard medical practice. The purpose of this study was to determine whether surgical freehand-drawings do facilitate surgeons in the communication process.
Methods
Authors carried out a questionnaire survey aimed at exploring physicians’ perceptions of the usefulness of drawings, in terms of level of understanding in consent acquisition procedures. A total of 90 anonymous questionnaires were distributed for doctors to fill in, in surgical and interventional medicine wards of the University Hospital of Turin.
Results
Out of the 90 questionnaires delivered, 37.8% (n=34) were filled out. 93.8% (n=30) of the physicians interviewed consider freehand-drawings a useful tool, 90% (n=27) of the surgeons, who confirmed to routinely use drawing for informed consent acquisition purposes. 96.3% (n=26) of the physicians who draw themselves illustrative images of proposed treatments asserted to perceive a real benefit in patients’ comprehension of the information when visually provided. Many respondent surgeons stated to consider drawing an effective means of information for consent acquisition. Nonetheless, just in 7.4% of the cases, personally drawn explicative images are then added in patients’ medical records, with possible detrimental effects on a medico legal point of view.
Conclusions
Graphical representation is useful for breaking down comprehension barriers resulting not only from the modality in which the information is conveyed but also from patients’ relational, social, and psychological factors, ensuring bi-directionalness of communication and prove in Italy, a Civil Law Country, the communicative effort of physicians in the best interest of the patients.

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