Consenting practice for laparoscopic cholecystectomy - are we doing enough to warn patients about their operation?

Int J Surg. 2011;9(8):643-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2011.08.004. Epub 2011 Sep 16.


Introduction: Provision of informed consent prior to surgery is fundamental in allowing patients to make balanced choices about their care. This study compares consenting practice amongst different grade of surgeons for Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (LC) with specific reference to the documentation of the complications of surgery. Timing and delivery of source of information is also evaluated.

Methods: Retrospective review of medical notes of all patients undergoing LC at London district general hospital between September 2006 to April 2009.

Results: Records were successfully retrieved for 163 patients. The five most commonly mentioned complications were bleeding (99%), infection (95%), conversion to open (93%), bile duct injury (82%) and visceral injury (65%). There were 27 documented complications in 23 patients and in 9 of these patients (39%) the specific complication was not discussed during the written consent process. Consultant surgeons tended to focus on important operation-specific risks such as bile duct injury whereas junior surgeons tend to focus on a broad range of general complications.

Conclusion: Consenting practice for LC remains variable and is resulting in failure to warn patients of significant complications. This can lead to potential medico-legal implications. Having a structured consent form detailing all significant and common risk is one way of improving the consent process.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic*
  • Consent Forms / standards
  • Disclosure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / standards*
  • London
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult