Introduction Procedure specific consent forms (PSCFs) have been shown to improve consenting practice for a standardised list of complications. The aim of this study was to assess the current usage and quality of PSCFs in the National Health Service (NHS) for cholecystectomy, specifically comparing the listed complications with those mentioned on the NHS website. Methods A freedom of information request was sent to all NHS trusts asking whether they perform laparoscopic cholecystectomy and whether they have a PSCF for this. A copy of the PSCF was also requested. Complications stated on these forms were compared with those on the NHS Choices website. Results Overall, 162 (88%) of the 185 trusts responded, with 121 of these performing cholecystectomies. Among these, 20 (17%) currently use PSCFs; all provided a copy. Five (25%) of the PSCFs contained all eight risks mentioned on the NHS website. The number of risks listed varied from 4 to 18 per form. Only bile duct injury was listed on every PSCF. The least frequently mentioned complication (45% of forms) was the risk from general anaesthetic. Conclusions This study suggests that too few trusts are using PSCFs and that those PSCFs that are in use contain too little detail on the risks of cholecystectomy. The listed risks and incidences on each PSCF were highly variable. More trusts should begin to use PSCFs during the informed consent process and each PSCF should include a nationally standardised list of potential complications to act as a prompt for discussion (and documentation) of risk.
Keywords: Cholecystectomy; Consent form; Informed consent.