August 15, 2023

Study: Surgeon communication with patients on innovative procedures

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study from the UK finds that patients are not given sufficient information about innovative surgical procedures and their potential risks and uncertainties.

Researchers collected data on seven cases, using preoperative interviews with surgeons, audio-recorded consultations during which innovative procedures were discussed between surgeons and patients, and postoperative interviews with patients.

The recordings revealed that only a minority of surgeons talked explicitly preoperatively about the procedure being innovative, their limited experience with it, and the lack of evidence and uncertainty of what the outcome would be.

The study also showed that all of the surgeons were optimistic about the benefits of the new procedures, but often discussions about risks were generalized.

In postoperative interviews, many patients thought the procedures were more established than they actually were and felt they were not told about potential disadvantages of having the procedures.

The researchers concluded that there is a need for communication interventions and training to support surgeons in providing transparent data and shared decision-making for innovative procedures.

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