• Cross-sectional Analysis of the Standards of Consent Applied to Anaesthesia in Ireland: Are Anaesthetists Aware of their Legal and Ethical Obligations?

      Cafferkey A; Lyons, B (Irish Medical Journal, 2018-01)
      Consent to a medical intervention has legally and ethically evolved to a process prioritising autonomy and patient-led decision-making. This cross-sectional analysis investigated Irish anaesthetists’ practices of taking consent. Following ethical approval, trainees and fellows of the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland were invited to participate in a 33 question online survey. One hundred and sixty responses (11.8%) were received, an equal number coming from consultants and trainees. The majority (93.7%) worked in a teaching hospital. Fifteen percent said their department had guidelines on obtaining consent for anaesthesia, but only 4.5% said their department used a separate consent form. Most (63.8%) do not usually document consent. A significant number rarely (21.8%) or never (27.8%) explained risks to patients. Lack of time was identified as the most frequent barrier (77.6%), with just under half first meeting the patient in the theatre holding-bay or the anaesthetic room. Forty-one percent felt the ultimate decision regarding which anaesthetic technique is employed should usually lie with the anaesthetist alone. These results suggest a wide variation in the practice of obtaining consent for anaesthesia. Less than half deemed their practice to be adequate in this regard, while 50% were concerned about litigation stemming from inadequate consent.