Autonomous patient consent for anaesthesia without preoperative consultation: a qualitative feasibility study including low-risk procedures

Autonomous patient consent for anaesthesia without preoperative consultation: a qualitative feasibility study including low-risk procedures
Original Research Article
MarijeMarsman, Wisse M.F. van den Beuken, Wilton A. van Klei, Teus H.Kappen
BJA Open, September 2022
Informed consent for anaesthesia is mandatory and requires provision of information and subsequent consent during consultation between anaesthesiologist and patient. Although information can be provided in an electronic format, it is unknown whether this a valid substitute for a consultation. We explored whether provision of digital information is equivalent to oral consultation and whether it enables patients to give electronic informed consent (e-consent) for anaesthesia.
Qualitative feasibility study using semi-structured interviews in 20 low-risk adults scheduled for minor surgery under general anaesthesia or procedural sedation at a university hospital. Data were analysed using a thematic content analysis approach. During the interviews, patients followed an application that provides information and subsequent e-consenting.
The mean age was 50 yr and patients had good digital skills. Fifteen patients (75%) had previous experience of anaesthesia. The digital application provided enough information for all patients, but eight (40%) preferred consultation with an anaesthesiologist, mainly for personal contact. Patients had different information needs, with previous experiences leading to lower information needs. Nineteen patients had sufficient information to consent autonomously. Most patients considered separate anaesthesia consent superfluous to the surgical consent.
The digital application provided sufficient information and patients valued the information offered and the advantage of processing information at their own pace. This information made patients feel empowered to autonomously consent to anaesthesia without consultation. Remarkably, consent for anaesthesia was considered unimportant, because patients felt they had ‘no choice’ if they wanted to undergo surgery.

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