alexa Sign on the dotted line: parental consent.
Clinical Research

Clinical Research

Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics

Author(s): Steven M

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The issue of informed consent in paediatric surgery has always been contentious. Despite the fact that taking consent is one of the most frequently performed tasks of a surgeon, it is rarely audited. Indeed, there are few studies looking at the consent process in adult practice and fewer in the paediatric setting. The aim of this study was, therefore, to determine parental understanding, recall, attitudes and opinion of the consent process in a busy paediatric day surgery unit. A prospective study was conducted using a questionnaire consisting of 20 questions. These were handed out to the parents of all children undergoing one of four procedures: circumcision, prepuceplasty, orchidopexy and herniotomy over a 3-month-period. Completed questionnaires were collected and analysed. One hundred and sixty-one parents were asked to complete the questionnaire. Ninety-three were collected, a response rate of 58%, 87% believed consent was taken by the performing surgeon, 15% felt the consent process was rushed, but 91% thought the right amount of detail was given. Ninety-seven percent of parents believed that the consent form was a legal necessity and 72% believed that a child in Scotland had to be aged 16 or over to sign the consent form. Interestingly, 23% of parents were unsure if signing the consent form meant that they could not claim compensation if anything went wrong. Ninety-one percent recalled the procedure being explained in the outpatient clinic, but 22% did not remember potential complications being discussed. The amount parents recalled of potential complications varied. Seventy percent felt that a leaflet about the procedure prior to attending the unit would be helpful. In conclusion consent is an extremely important part of our practice. This study highlights some of the common parental misconceptions and limitations of the process. Parents appear satisfied and consenting for procedures is overall performed well. Some areas could be improved and more research is required in this area.

This article was published in Pediatr Surg Int and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics

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