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Practice of the principle of right conduct in obtaining informed consents and legibility of the consent forms - a clinical audit


Informed consent forms must be clear and include all the necessary information of the possible risks, benefits and complications of the procedure needing consent to. Thus, the form should not include illegible handwriting, medical jargons and abbreviations. Ethically, it should be obtained by a higher ranked physician [1]. In a thirteen-week audit conducted in a Dublin hospital, we observed the effects of revised informed consent forms by quantifying the number of errors, if any, created through this process and propose an immediate solution to it.


Retrospective (between 1/11/2012-10/2/2013) and randomised data collection method was applied on 100 informed consent forms found in patient’s files, using a data collection form consisting of 7 questions.


Out of 100 consent forms, only 32% are new, contain no abbreviations and are written legibly. One form was not filled up, but the procedure associated with it (blood transfusion) was carried out nevertheless. 38% of informed consent was obtained by interns. Similarly, 10 out of 38 consent forms filled up by interns pertain to major procedures in which patients were prescribed a general anaesthesia, which rendered them unconscious. 48% of consent forms contain abbreviations while 77% were legibly written. In 7 cases, the doctors’ names were illegibly written while in 22 cases, the rank of the doctor who obtained the consent could not be identified.


Our study discovered a low percentage of perfectly filled informed consent forms and high percentage of legible forms. High numbers of consent were obtained by the interns, a practice which did not adhere to the recommended ethical guidelines[1]. We recommend the use of high quality rubber stamps to allow for better readability of the doctors’ name and the introduction of policy that holds the consultants responsible in ensuring the legibility of informed consent forms of their respective patients.


  1. Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners. 2009, 7

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Hassan, R., Ramli, A. & Callanan, I. Practice of the principle of right conduct in obtaining informed consents and legibility of the consent forms - a clinical audit. BMC Proc 9 (Suppl 1), A16 (2015).

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