Ghana Medical Journal

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An audit of aspects of informed consent and pain relief in general surgical units of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

JNA Clegg-Lamptey, WM Hodasi


There is the need to adequately inform patients about their disease, treatment options, surgery and post-operative complications. Adequate pain relief after surgery leads to less morbidity. Two important aspects of surgical practice are being addressed in this paper, the need for informed consent and post operative pain relief.

A questionnaire survey was carried out in 100 patients on the four general surgical wards of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, just before they were discharged from hospital. They were asked what they knew or had been informed about their diagnosis, operation and complications of surgery. On pain relief, patients were asked about their experiences on the first post-operative day and what relief they had from analgesics.

Twenty four did not know the diagnosis and 36 were not told what operation they were going to have before surgery. Although 75 were eventually told what operation they had, only 64 said they knew the operation. Sixty eight did not know what to expect after surgery; 87 did not know about possible complications. On the first post-operative day there was significant pain (scores 4 and 5) felt by 24 patients at rest and 46 on movement. The most frequently prescribed analgesic was pethidine. Patient information in General surgery at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is unsatisfactory. Post-operative analgesia is also poor. There is the need for surgeons to either train doctors to administer consent or administer it themselves. Anaesthetists should assume a leading role in managing post-operative pain.

Keywords: consent, post-operative analgesia, patient information, complications, surgery, Korle Bu

Ghana Medical Journal Vol. 39(2) 2005: 63-67
AJOL African Journals Online