Informed consent should be obtained by interventional radiology specialists



Informing patients about the important details of interventional radiology procedures, before getting permission to conduct an intervention, is an important task that should be carried out by a specialist, a new study recommends.

New research presented at CIRSE 2013 (14–18 September, Barcelona, Spain) has shown that patients who provided consent to referring clinical teams often have a poor grasp of key details of interventional radiology procedures, including the potential risk of the procedure and of the type of anaesthesia to be used. In short, it suggested that consent by clinical teams was often inadequate.

Speaking on the results of the study, Mark W McCusker, Radiology Department, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, told delegates: “The majority of consent is obtained by interns. Ideally, informed consent for interventional radiology procedures should be obtained by the operator. On occasions, the task can be delegated to a suitably trained person who understands the risks, benefits, and alternatives.”

Based on the fact that in many departments, limited resources require delegation to the referring clinical team to obtain informed consent, the investigators set out to determine if patients who gave consent to non-interventional radiology personnel had a clear understanding of the procedure, its attendant risks, and the alternatives available. This was done by the investigators verbally administering a questionnaire to patients before entering the interventional radiology suite.

One hundred and thirty two consecutive patients were enrolled over a period of four weeks. Of these, consent was obtained by the referring teams for 71 patients. Consent was obtained for the others by interventional radiology staff.


“Of the 71 patients who gave consent to the referring teams, only 42% could name the procedure; 49% could not name any potential complications, and 80% did not know the form of anaesthetic to be used. Interns obtained consent from 67% patients. Informed consent should be obtained by interventional radiology specialists with resulting resource implications for interventional radiology services,” McCusker said.