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Discussion plus pamphlet better than just discussion for informed consent

CHICAGO Patients who received educational pamphlets in addition to discussing the risks related to facial plastic surgeries were better able to recall those risks later compared with patients who did not get pamphlets, according to an article in the January/February issue of The Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, the fundamental concept of informed consent is that the patient has the right to make a decision regarding treatment, including refusal to accept treatment, after being given adequate information about disease, condition, and therapy in simple, concise terms. In order for informed consent to be given, surgeons must inform their patients of the following:

  • The nature of the disease, condition or injury
  • The nature, purpose, benefits, disadvantages and limitations of any treatment plan
  • Available alternatives to any treatment, including the consequences of no treatment at all
  • The risks and complications of the treatment
  • Who will be performing the treatment

Several studies have investigated how much a patient remembers of what they are told during the informed consent process. One study revealed that patients undergoing cosmetic surgery remembered less than half of the information verbally communicated to them. Few studies have explored the use of additional, non-verbal means of communicating surgical risk and improving patient recall of those risks.

Ara Samuel Makdessian, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., from West-Med Facial Cosmetic Surgery Center, Plantation, Fla., and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of verbal communication about the risks of facial cosmetic procedures compared with verbal and written communication in the form of pamphlets outlining procedures and risks.

The researchers enrolled 120 consecutive patients (average age, 41 years), who came to a facial plastic surgery center for a consultat
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Contact: Ara Samuel Makdessian, M.D., F.R.C.S.C.
954-472-1212
JAMA and Archives Journals
19-Jan-2004


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