Patient Safety/informed consent


QUESTION: ON the morning of  my recent minor surgery (which fortunately went perfectly)the nurse brought me an informed consent to sign. It included a statement, "My doctor has discussed with me possible adverse effects of this procedure." That was incorrect. He didn't discuss anything with me and didn't have me sign an informed consent.
I signed it, but would have happened if I had crossed out that paragraph and signed the form. Could they have refused to do the procedure? What should I have done?



Informed consent forms have different parts.  The first part is the disclosure and explanation of the nature of a procedure or treatment, its potential risks and benefits, and reasonable alternatives which may be available.  Another part ensures that the patient understands what has been explained to him or her.  Your crossing out any part of the informed consent would have called a halt to the proceedings until your concerns were addressed and you were comfortable signing an informed consent form.  
I'm glad that everything went as expected and hope you continue doing well.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. I appreciate your answer. And I apologize for not making the situation clear. When they brought me the form to sign, I was in ambulatory care, dressed for surgery, I had already been given dilating and numbing eye drops as well as an oral sedative (valium), the doctor and anesthesiologist were getting ready for me and 3 more patients for cataract surgery after me. Should I have held everything up till I talked to the doctor? (I really didn't want to get him in a bad mood at that point!) It seems to me I was in the position of having to sign something that wasn't true (with possible legal consequences if everything didn't go right)or holding up doctors, nurses and 3 other patients, or not getting my surgery done. What should I have done?

Hi Jo,
I'm sorry you were put in that situation.  I understand your hesitancy to hold up the proceedings.  You only had two choices; 1) sign the form as you did even though the statement was not true that you had been properly informed, 2) Notify the staff and doctor that you were not comfortable signing because the statements on the form were not factual.  
I believe that the doctor and staff would prefer to know if you felt that you had not been properly informed of all the particulars and issues regarding the procedure.  Obviously, since you had already been given a sedative when presented with the informed consent form, your procedure would have been postponed until you were free of the medication effects and then informed with disclosures and explanations.  
A surgical team should have known better than to present anything for your signature after you had been given a sedative that might impair judgment and eye drops that might impair your ability to see what you were signing. At this point, all you can do is voice a complaint with the surgical center.  The management there should ensure this never happens to another patient.
Thank you for your question and I hope I helped.  Please let me know if you need more information.

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Deb RN


I can answer questions about nursing errors and patient care errors. I can answer questions about nursing procedures, interventions, and outcomes.


I have been a registered nurse for over 24 years. I've worked in many areas of nursing, including medical, surgical, intensive care, emergency, dialysis, and administration. I am an ardent supporter of patient rights and patient safety.

I have a degree in science with a major in nursing. I have been certified in critical care and dialysis nursing.

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