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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
Minerva Anestesiologica 1998 January-February;64(1-2):5-11
Desire for information and informed consent in general anaesthesia
Barneschi M. G. 1, Miccinesi G. 2, Paci E. 2, Novelli G. P. 1
1 Università degli Studi - Firenze, Istituto di Anestesiologia e Rianimazione;
2 Azienda Ospedaliera Careggi - Firenze, U.O. Epidemiologia
Background. In the last years the interest for Informed Consent (IC) in anaesthesia has been growing and it has been debated on the adequate explanations in order to obtain a consent. The purpose of the present study was to assess patients’ desire for information about anaesthesia.
Methods. In this prospective study a form has been given to consecutive patients waiting for surgical operation in general surgery or ear nose throat surgery and able to read and write, to inform them about the necessity of General Anaesthesia (GA); they were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning their desire for information about the following six items concerning anaesthesia: “the duration of anaesthesia”; “what type of pain will I have when I come round, and what pain-killers will I be given”; “details on the various types of anaesthesia, how and where will I be anaesthetized”; “what are the most common complications of general anaesthesia”; “where and how will I come round from general anaesthesia”; “what is artificial respiration in general anaesthesia”.
Results. 107 patients participated in the study, 24 of whom were undergoing surgery for malignant cancer and 83 for benign non-oncological diseases. More than two-thirds of patients expressed their wish to receive information, and the trend of desire to know was inversely related to age (p<0.05). There was no significant statistical difference in the desire to know according either to sex or to the kind of disease (benign or malignant). The demand for information about pain was particularly high (85%), also in the older group of patients. The results and the difficulties for obtaining IC are debated.
Conclusions. The growth of patients’ desire for information about anaesthesia is an aspect of the evolving doctor-patient relationship in Italy. Efforts should be directed at improving reciprocal communication.