Evaluation of patient's understanding and recall of the consent process after open inguinal hernia repairs

Int J Surg. 2012;10(1):5-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2011.10.003. Epub 2011 Oct 25.


Introduction: Open inguinal Hernia repair is one of the most commonly performed operative procedure. Despite this, hernia repair can cause considerable morbidity and rarely mortality. Some of these complications such as chronic pain and testicular complications can be easily disregarded, thereby leading to medico-legal claims being made. As a result, the quality of consent process is crucial in increasing patient satisfaction after inguinal hernia repair. This is a prospective study exploring patient's recall of the consenting practice after elective open inguinal hernia repairs at our institute.

Methods: Patients who had an elective, Lichtenstein inguinal hernia repair between January to October 2009 were identified. Patients were contacted by telephone after 3 days and a questionnaire was completed.

Results: There were 86 patients included in our study. The male:female ratio was 70:16 whilst the average age was 63.2+/-19.2 years. 42 patients stated pain relief as the main indication for having the operation whilst 30 patients feared incarceration or strangulation as the main indication. Infection was the complication recalled most by patients in our study (31 patients), followed by bleeding (30 patients). Only 2 patients were aware of developing potential chronic pain and 10 patients realised the potential for testicular problems. 57 patients were aware of having a mesh inside their groin. There were 61 patients who were aware of laparoscopic approach as an alternative to open inguinal hernia repair.

Conclusions: Recall of consent is very poor. As a result, repeating the information stated and providing additional resource may reinforce the consent process.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hernia, Inguinal / psychology
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy / methods*
  • Herniorrhaphy / psychology
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / standards*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires