Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Experiences from the front-line routine consenting of surplus surgically removed tissue: without investment by the National Health Service fully informed consent for all is not available
  1. Janet Wheeler1,
  2. Monica Agarwal2,
  3. John Sugden3,
  4. Meriel Bladon3,
  5. Philip Quirke4
  1. 1Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust/University of Leeds Pathology and Tumour Biology, Leeds, UK
  2. 2North West Deanery, Preston, UK
  3. 3Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
  4. 4University of Leeds, Pathology and Tumour Biology, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    MrsJ Wheeler
    Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust/University of Leeds Pathology and Tumour Biology, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK; janet.wheeler{at}


The study investigated the routine introduction of a new surgical consent form containing a tissue consent section to investigate patient attitudes to the use of surplus tissue for research (after the Alder Hey inquiry) and also the differing approaches by consent takers. All surgical consent forms received in histopathology for the same 2-month period in 2 consecutive years were analysed, recording available information about the specimen, the tissue consent section and, for the second year, the consent taker. The findings showed that <5% of patients whose views were recorded disagreed with the use of their tissue for research. They also showed that the number of completed forms sent to histopathology had increased but the pattern of completion had changed very little. A wide variation between departments and also between clinicians was apparent in the levels of completion of the tissue consent section, suggesting wide variability in the quality of the consenting process. When asked, patients rarely object (<5%) but if the highest standards of consent for surgical tissue are to be achieved and the wishes of patients to donate tissue are to be effectively recorded then new resources or approaches will be needed for this process.

  • NHS, National Health Service

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 1 September 2006

  • Funding: Genentech (San Francisco, California, USA) provided funding for JW’s salary.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethical approval was not required as this study was an audit of the consent process.

  • This study was performed independently of the funding source and the employer organisations.