Table 3

Patients' views on the provision of risk information

Patients who want little or no information“Ignorance (about operative risks) is bliss.” “People with no medical knowledge are not interested in complications.” “If risks are known then trust in the surgeon would be diminished.”
Patients who want some information“I would want to know that there is a risk but breaking it down at that stage (initial outpatient consultation) is not helpful.” “It is sensible to be told a clear 98% success rate. There should be a single all embracing statement saying ‘things could go wrong.’” “Patients should be told that there is a percentage risk that the operation is not a success. That is sufficient.”
Patients who want full information“I would want to know about risks—though I might not ask. I would like to know what the surgeon's success rate is in a particular operation. The more questions asked by the patient the better.” “I took trouble to find out about the risks and wrote to the British Heart Foundation. Knowing the risks made it easier.” “If you know about (a particular complication) before the operation it would help you to prepare.”