Risk information for healthcare professionals

Discussion of the common events and risks associated with an anaesthetic is an essential element of informed consent. The summary card below shows the common events and risks that healthy adult patients of normal weight face when having a general anaesthetic for routine surgery. Clearly each patient may have particularly significant additional risks depending on their health and type of surgery. Use of this resource can be recorded on the anaesthetic chart as part of your documentation of discussions on risks and process for consent.

Displaying risk through infographics can be helpful for patients of all reading ability to help them take in complex information. Risk is generally poorly understood – equating this to occurrence in a group of people can be very helpful. This infographic can be laminated and given to patients to read when they attend the preoperative assessment clinic or on admission on the day of surgery, if there has been no time for preoperative assessment. It is helpful for patients to read this before they meet their anaesthetist so they may be better informed when they discuss their anaesthetic.

For further detail on specific risks, patients can be signposted to the risk leaflets on the patient information area of the RCoA website.