Rapid responses are electronic comments to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on bmj.com. A rapid response is first posted online. If you need the URL (web address) of an individual response, simply click on the response headline and copy the URL from the browser window. A proportion of responses will, after editing, be published online and in the print journal as letters, which are indexed in PubMed. Rapid responses are not indexed in PubMed and they are not journal articles. The BMJ reserves the right to remove responses which are being wilfully misrepresented as published articles.
I sympathize with supporters of simple consent. I probably don't
need to know the long list of possible side effects of pain killers and I
probably don't need to be told that an influenza injection will hurt.
However, what do I need to know, and will it frighten me? I am not
particular frightened of needles - yet if nobody told me that they hurt I
would be a little miffed.
There are many times when a patient does not need to know ALL the
choices, but I have one question about simple consent. Would the patient
be told about ALL the possible problems with the suggested course of
action - frightening as they may be? If they are not there may be an
issue concerning patient autonomy. Can I truly be said to consenting to a
flu jab, if I didn't know that it hurts? There also may be a danger, if
nobody told me a flu jab did not hurt I might flinch whilst be injected
and waste a perfectly good vaccine. And that helps neither patient or
No competing interests
07 November 2005
Michael G Peckitt
University of Hull, c/o Philosophy Dept, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU6 7RX