Your doctor will ask you to sign a consent form – a written record that you have agreed to the planned operation. Before you can give your consent, your doctor will discuss with you what the operation is likely to involve, the benefits and risks, the type of anaesthetic and any available alternative treatments. You may also be given some written information to back up what you’ve been told.
It is important that you understand the information you have been given – ask questions if you don’t understand or if you want more information.
Your doctor will write the main benefits and risks associated with the operation on the consent form before you sign it. You will then be given a copy of the page with the details of the operation.
Questions to ask
It is important that you understand what will happen in your operation and why before you sign a consent form. You should be given a chance to ask questions. To help you think about what you want to ask your doctor, you may find the following questions helpful.
About the operation
- Why is the operation necessary?
- What does it involve?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the risks?
- Will the operation change the way I look?
- Are there any alternative treatments or operations?
- What are the risks if I decide to do nothing for the time being?
About the anaesthetic
- Who will give my anaesthetic?
- Do I have to have a general anaesthetic?
- What type of anaesthetic is best for me?
- Is this type of anaesthetic used often?
- What are the risks of this type of anaesthetic?
- Do I have any special risks?
- How will I feel afterwards?
About my stay in hospital
- How long will I need to stay in hospital?
- What should I bring with me into hospital?
- How can I expect to feel after the procedure?
- Will I have any pain?
- If I feel pain, how long it is likely to last?
- What pain treatments will be best for me and how do these work?
- Will I need to take time off from work?
Confirming / withdrawing consent
You may be asked to sign the consent form some time before the operation (for example in outpatients or at a pre-assessment clinic). If this happens, you will be asked before the operation to confirm that you still wish to go ahead with it. If you later change your mind, you’re entitled to withdraw consent – even after signing.