Universal consent practice in academic intensive care units (ICUs)

Lance Stuke, Andrew Jennings, Mark Gunst, Tracy Tyner, Randall Friese, Terence O'Keeffe, Heidi Frankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine national practice for obtaining consent in academic adult intensive care units (ICUs) for routine bedside procedures and to define universal consent rates by patient demographics within our own institutionĝ™s ICUs. Methods: A 10-question survey was sent to the program directors for all U.S. surgical and pulmonary critical care directors regarding consent practices. Further, the adoption of a universal consent protocol in an academic county hospital was studied. Results: Cross-sectional study: Thirty-seven percent of program directors completed the survey. Consent rates varied from 35% to 97% by procedure, with only 14% using a universal consent document. Providers in Medical ICUs obtained consent more often than in Surgical ICUs for both central line and pulmonary artery catheter placement (82.8% and 93.1% vs. 52.6% and 52.6%, respectively). Prospective cohort study: At our institution, 90% of 363 patients or their proxies signed universal consent for procedures, 4.4% consent with exemptions, while 5.2% refused. Insured patients were 2.7 times more likely to sign full universal consent for bedside ICU procedures than uninsured patients. Conclusion: There was a national variation in ICU consent practices with an interest in a wider usage of universal consent protocols. The latter was adopted differentially based on patient demographics. Universal consent was widely accepted at our institution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Informed consent
  • Intensive care unit
  • Invasive procedures
  • Medical intensive care unit
  • Surgical intensive care unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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