Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Informed consent

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1082

Rapid Response:

Informed Consent: What am I frightened of?

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

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

07 November 2005
Michael G Peckitt
University tutor
University of Hull, c/o Philosophy Dept, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU6 7RX