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Invited Commentary
June 2017

The Evolution of Informed Consent for Surgery Using the Best Case/Worst Case Framework

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery and the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(6):538-539. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.5654

For the last several decades, surgery has been preceded by the surgeon obtaining informed consent from the patient. In the traditional informed consent process, the surgeon explains the risks, benefits, and alternatives to surgery to patients so that they can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with an operation. In recent years, surgical options have increased while the numbers of frail, elderly patients needing surgery have also increased. This confluence of events has exposed a weakness of the classic informed consent discussion—namely, the manner in which the discussion of operative risks may be isolated from the patient’s overall condition and future goals.