Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Incomprehensible consent forms:Plain English is important

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1450

Rapid Response:

No patients, no doctors

Sir- This problem is common to many countries and languages. For
professional reasons, I read many clinical documents from different
hospitals. A written consent form is usually found. There are two main
kinds of forms. One form is very concise, nothing is really explained, but
the doctor is allowed to do what he thinks better for the patient. Another
type of form is much more technical, to the point that only a specialist
of that disease can understand what is written. In some occasions, I had
difficulties in understanding. Moreover, medical councils did not decide
yet what is important in practice to write down in a consent form.
Therefore, the problem concerns both the content and the style of this
very particular communication. In my opinion, the doctor should use some
minutes to explain the case to the patient, and write this conversation un
the form. After all, we are doctors only because there are patients.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 June 2005
Giusto Giusti
Professor of Legal Medicina
Rome 00133