This Week In The Bmj

Patients misunderstand purpose of consent

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7567.0-d (Published 07 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:0-d

Many patients have limited knowledge of the legal implications of signing or not signing consent forms and do not recognise written consent as primarily serving their interests. In a prospective questionnaire study, Akkad and colleagues (p 528) found that, of 732 patients who had undergone surgery, nearly half believed the primary function of consent forms was to protect hospitals, and 68% thought the forms allowed doctors to assume control. The authors conclude that substantial disparity remains between the bioethical ideals of the consent process and its role as perceived by patients.

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