Disclosure, consent, and the exercise of patient autonomy in surgical innovation: a systematic content analysis of the conceptual literature

Account Res. 2014;21(6):331-52. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2013.866045.


The classification of surgical innovation as clinical care, research, or as third distinct type of activity creates ambiguity which impacts standards for disclosure and informed consent. We conducted a systematic review of the conceptual literature to identify positions expressed about consent and disclosure, as well as major tension points associated with this issue. Literature overwhelmingly favors special consent and disclosure. Four major tension points were identified: the use of biasing/biased terminology to characterize innovation; patient vulnerability; the relationship between surgeon-innovator and patient; and practices and associated gaps related to consent and disclosure. Recommendations often focused on the informed consent process.

Keywords: autonomy; neuroethics; neurosurgery; surgical innovation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Disclosure*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Inventions / ethics
  • Patients / psychology
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / ethics*