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Consent documentation for elective orthopaedic surgery

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Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -) Aims and scope Submit manuscript



Currently in Ireland, there is a lack of uniformity regarding the method in which the consent process is routinely documented. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the standard consent forms used in elective orthopaedic hospitals in Ireland. In addition, this paper explores the relevant guidelines from the UK and Ireland relating to consent documentation.


Standard consent forms used in the 24 public hospitals that perform elective orthopaedic surgery were analysed and compared, based on the inclusion or exclusion of 22 unique consent-related items or statements selected by the authors. In addition, each form was analysed for format, word count, and readability.


Within 24 hospitals with elective orthopaedic surgery, there were 21 unique consent forms being used. There was a mean inclusion of 9.5 of the 22 unique items per form with a standard deviation of 5.1 (range 2–18), indicating a wide discrepancy. For each unique consent-related item in the analysis, the mean rate of inclusion was 43.4% (SD 26.7%). The mean Flesch Reading Ease Score was 43.3. The format varied from 1 to 4 pages, with a word count of 109 to 1041 (mean 414.7).


The findings demonstrate a lack of uniformity of both format and content amongst the consent forms currently being used in elective orthopaedic hospitals in Ireland. This paper supports the use of a nationally standardised consent documentation method in order to improve the efficiency of the consent process and ensure greater protection against litigation.

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Correspondence to Robert M. Kenyon.

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Author Robert Kenyon declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Author Eoghan Pomeroy declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Author Robert Yeo declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Author James Cashman declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Kenyon, R.M., Pomeroy, E., Yeo, R. et al. Consent documentation for elective orthopaedic surgery. Ir J Med Sci 188, 861–866 (2019).

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