An Audit of the Knowledge and Attitudes of Doctors towards Surgical Informed Consent (SIC)

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mother and Child Health Centre, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, Pakistan

2 Department of Plastic Surgery and Burns, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, Pakistan

3 Departments of Neurosurgery and Medical Education, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad, Pakistan


The Surgical Informed Consent (SIC) is a comprehensive process that establishes an informationbased agreement between the patient and his doctor to undertake a clearly outlined medical or surgical intervention. It is neither a casual formality nor a casually signed piece of paper. The present study was designed to audit the current knowledge and attitudes of doctors towards SIC at a tertiary care teaching hospital in Pakistan.
This cross-sectional qualitative investigation was conducted under the auspices of the Department of Medical Education (DME), Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), Islamabad over three months period. A 19-item questionnaire was employed for data collection. The participants were selected at random from the list of the surgeons maintained in the hospital and approached face-to-face with the help of a team of junior doctors detailed for questionnaire distribution among them. The target was to cover over 50% of these doctors by convenience sampling.

Out of 231 respondents, there were 32 seniors while 199 junior doctors, constituting a ratio of 1:6.22. The respondents variably responded to the questions regarding various attributes of the process of SIC. Overall, the junior doctors performed poorer compared to the seniors.

The knowledge and attitudes of our doctors particularly the junior ones, towards the SIC are less than ideal. This results in their failure to avail this golden opportunity of doctor-patient communication to guide their patients through a solidly informative and legally valid SIC. They are often unaware of the essential preconditions of the SIC; provide incomplete information to their patients; and quite often do not ensure direct involvement of their patients in the process. Additionally they lack an understanding of using interactive computer-based programs as well as the concept of nocebo effect of informed consent


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