Residents seeking informed consent: Are they adequately knowledgeable?

Peter Angelos*, Debra A. DaRosa, David Bentram, Heather Sherman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which first-year surgical residents are prepared to obtain informed consent from patients. The study was designed to answer the following research questions: 1) Are first-year residents who are asked to obtain informed consent sufficiently knowledgeable about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the procedures? 2) Can first-year residents accurately answer the questions patients may pose about these procedures? Methods: First-year residents (n = 18) were asked to list the risks, benefits, and alternatives for open inguinal hernia repair, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, total thyroidectomy, esophago-gastrectomy, and abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, assuming the procedures were elective on otherwise healthy individuals. Residents were also asked to answer questions that patients may pose about each of the procedures. The basic minimum risks, benefits, and alternatives to be listed and answers to the questions were validated by asking faculty representing general (n = 6) and vascular (n = 3) surgery to complete the questionnaires. Results: Few residents were able to correctly list all risks, benefits, and alternatives of any of the procedures. Less than one-half of the questions that patients may ask about the procedures were correctly answered. Conclusions: Even though first-year residents are commonly obtaining consent for surgical procedures, many are unable to provide patients with the correct descriptions of the risks, benefits, and alternatives. Nor were they able to correctly answer common questions. Surgical faculty must take more time to educate first-year residents on the appropriate issues in informed consent for the procedures being performed. (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-118
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Alternatives
  • Benefits
  • Communication
  • Ethics
  • Surgical informed consent
  • Surgical risks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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