The Consent Process for Elective Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: Does Information on Handwritten Forms Meet Prescribed Standards?

The Consent Process for Elective Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: Does Information on Handwritten Forms Meet Prescribed Standards?
Anirudh Sharma, Osasumwen Adelowo, Santosh Bindumadhavan, Naufal Ahmed, Amir-Reza Jenabzadeh
Cureus, 28 March 2022; 14(3)
The process of informed consent is vital, not only to good clinical practice and patient care, but also to avoid negligence and malpractice claims. Elective hip and knee arthroplasty numbers are increasing globally, and the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) has endorsed standards for obtaining written consent for these procedures. Many centres in the United Kingdom and globally, use handwritten consent forms to document informed consent, leaving open the potential for missing out important procedure and risk-related information. Our study aimed to assess whether information on handwritten consent forms was compliant with BOA standards for elective arthroplasty of the hip and knee.
We retrospectively reviewed 70 handwritten consent forms, across theatre lists of 12 arthroplasty consultants at our elective arthroplasty centre. These included 35 forms each for hip and knee arthroplasty respectively. We compared the information on these forms to the standards prescribed by the BOA. We assessed compliance of the forms with common, less common and rare risks of hip and knee replacement, as described by the BOA. We also noted the designation of the person filling out the form (consultant, registrar or nurse practitioner) and whether this affected information on the form. We assessed the forms for legibility issues, and whether the setting (clinic/pre-operative ward) affected information on the form.
None of the 70 forms reviewed achieved full compliance with BOA standards. When assessed for common risks of hip and knee arthroplasty, the number of compliant forms was 25.7% and 42.8%, respectively. None of the forms mentioned all rare risks of either hip or knee arthroplasty. We identified legibility issues in 12 of 70 (17.1%) forms. There was no significant difference in information written on forms filled out by consultants, registrars or nurse practitioners, or between forms filled out in the clinic versus those on the pre-operative ward.
Handwritten forms lack compliance with prescribed standards for written informed consent in elective hip and knee arthroplasty. Ideally, a pre-written consent form should be used, but with the option of adding information individually tailored to the patients’ background. This ensures that good clinical practice is optimally followed, and reduces the potential risk of any litigation.

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