BMJ Qual Improv Report 6: doi:10.1136/bmjquality.u211571.w4730
  • BMJ Quality Improvement Programme

Improving consent form documentation and introduction of procedure-specific labels in a district general hospital

  1. Owain Ennis
  1. Glangwili General Hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board, Carmarthen, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Stefan Bajada stefan_bajada{at}
  • Received 22 March 2016
  • Revision requested 24 March 2016
  • Revised 24 July 2016
  • Published 8 February 2017


Informed consent is an important aspect in patient care. Failings in this area may result in patient dissatisfaction or litigation. The aim of this project was to assess our practice in consenting and institute changes to maintain best practice. A consecutive series of 140 patients undergoing elective and trauma procedures were randomly identified over a nine-month period. The consent forms were reviewed and the following information collected: patient/ consenter details, procedure, legibility, if copy was offered/ given to patient and adequacy of procedure-specific complications listed (scored 0-3). The issues identified included: 25% of consents were not fully legible particularly in the complications section. 62% were noted to have inadequate complications listed (score 0 [>5 risks missing]) when compared to an accepted standard. None of the consent form copies were offered or given to the patients. Focused teaching to juniors as well as procedure-specific complication stickers were implemented to improve the documentation of complications. Following several improvement cycles all consents (100%) were fully legible and had the adequate procedure-specific labels with all complications listed. There was an increase to 38% of consent forms offered to patients. We have asked surgeons in the department to comment on which consent method they prefer and all consenters felt that the procedure-specific labels where easier to read and understand. Departmental education as well as introduction of simple procedure-specific complication stickers has resulted in significant improvements in practice.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: