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Invited Commentary
October 30, 2019

Interventions to Improve Informed Consent: Perhaps Surgeons Should Speak Less and Listen More

Author Affiliations
  • 1The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Surg. 2020;155(1):13-14. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.3796

High-quality informed consent is central to the ethical practice of surgery. In this issue of JAMA Surgery, Schwarze and colleagues1 report on a novel attempt to increase patient engagement and well-being by sending older surgical patients a question prompt list (QPL) before their visit with a surgeon. For older patients undergoing high-risk operations, the authors have appropriately pointed out that the surgical procedure is often the start of a lengthy hospitalization and subsequent substantial changes in their ability to live independently or return to preoperative health status. They sought to improve the informed consent process for this group of vulnerable patients by working with surgeons to develop an informational brochure with a list of 11 questions to prompt patients and family members to ask their surgeons about treatment options, expectations for recovery, and management of potential serious complications.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Lawrence Danto, Professor retired | UCDavis, Michigan
    In all things be an observer first, a listener next, and a commenter last.  But if you comment, avoid “I”, “Me”, and “We”. Look beyond yourself - this is essential to all good science and clinical practice.  It is the essence of professionalism.