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Getting the Form Signed

There is only one acceptable time to get a surgical consent form signed: when the consent is obtained. In most cases the consent for surgery is obtained in the physician's office before the patient is admitted to the hospital. The consent form should be filled out and signed while the physician is talking to the patient. Obtaining the consent should not be delegated to a nurse or other assistant.

Except in emergency circumstances, consent for surgery should always be obtained by the surgeon who will be performing the operation. The surgeon should review the consent form with the patient. It is useful to have the patient initial the section of the form listing the risks, as well as signing the form in the presence of the surgeon. The surgeon should also sign and date the form. The patient should be given a copy of the form to keep. When the surgeon sees the patient in the hospital before the surgery, the patient should be asked if there are any additional questions that the surgeon can answer. In states that have laws requiring specific consent forms, the surgeon must have the forms available and use them appropriately. No judge or jury would accept that a surgeon had a fully equipped operating room available but could not obtain the statutory forms.

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