Missing consent forms in the preoperative area: a single-center assessment of the scope of the problem and its downstream effects

JAMA Surg. 2013 Sep;148(9):886-9. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2013.354.


Missing consent forms at surgery can lead to delays in patient care, provider frustration, and patient anxiety. We sought to assess the scope and magnitude of this problem at our institution. We surveyed key informants to determine the frequency and effect of missing consent forms. We found that 66% of patients were missing signed consent forms at surgery and that this caused a delay for 14% of operative cases. In many instances, the missing consent forms interfered with team rounds and resident educational activities. In addition, residents spent less time obtaining consent and were often uncomfortable obtaining consent for major procedures. Finally, 40% of faculty felt dissatisfied with resident consent forms, and more than two-thirds felt patients were uncomfortable with being asked for consent by residents. At our center, missing consent forms led to delayed cases, burdensome and inadequate consent by residents, and extra work for nursing staff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Consent Forms*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors