How Informed Is Your Informed Consent: Evaluating Differences Between Resident and Attending Obtained Consents for Cholecystectomy

How Informed Is Your Informed Consent: Evaluating Differences Between Resident and Attending Obtained Consents for Cholecystectomy
Kathleen E. Singer, Jennifer E. Baker, Nora C. Elson, Taylor E. Wallen, Ann Salvator, Ralph C. Quillin, Jeffrey J. Sussman, Amy T. Makley, Michael D. Goodman
Journal of Surgical Education, 24 August 2022
There is considerable variability in surgeons’ approach to write and obtain informed consent for surgery, particularly among resident trainees. We analyzed differences in procedures and complications described in documented surgical consents for cholecystectomy between residents and attendings. We hypothesized that attending consents would describe more comprehensive procedures and complications than those done by residents.
This is a retrospective analysis of 334 patients who underwent cholecystectomy. Charts were queried for demographics, surgical approach, whether the consent was completed electronically, and which provider completed the consent. Specifically, consents were evaluated for inclusion of possible conversion to open procedure, intraoperative cholangiogram, bile duct injury, injury to nearby structures, reoperation, bile leak, as well as if the consent matched the actual procedure performed.
This study was conducted at an accredited general surgery training program at an academic tertiary care center in the Midwest.
This was a review of 334 patients who underwent cholecystectomy over a 1 year period.
Of all documented consents analyzed, 153 (47%) specifically included possible intraoperative cholangiogram, 156 (47%) included bile duct injury, 76 (23%) included injury to nearby structures, 22 (7%) included reoperation, and 62 (19%) included bile leak. In comparing residents and attendings, residents were more likely to consent for bile duct injury (p = 0.002), possible intraoperative cholangiogram (p = 0.0007), injury to nearby structures (p < 0.0001), reoperation (p < 0.0001), and bile leak (p < 0.0001).
Significant variation exists between documentation between resident and attending cholecystectomy consents, with residents including more complications than attendings on their consent forms. These data suggest that experience alone does not predict content of written consents, particularly for common ambulatory procedures. Education regarding the purpose of informed consent and what should be included in one may lead to a reduction in variability between providers.

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