Eye doctors of Ireland publish guidelines on best practice for patient consent process at ICO winter meeting

Patient Information leaflets provide clear guidance on risks and benefits of procedure and aim to facilitate informed decision making

Eye doctors and experts from the Irish health sector met today (Thursday, December 1st) at the Irish College of Ophthalmologists’ Winter Meeting  in The Gresham Hotel, Dublin, to discuss measures aimed at providing greater support to patients and to offer practical guidance to eye doctors on the process of obtaining patient consent.

The ICO, the training and professional body for eye doctors in Ireland, has published guidelines on the consent process for its members and developed a series of patient information leaflets on a range of ophthalmic procedures in order to provide patients with clear and accessible information in advance of a proposed procedure.

The documents were developed by the ICO Ethics and Professional Standards Committee in recognition of the need to provide guidance to its members on best practice of the patient consent process and were informed by the HSE’s National Consent Policy.[1]

Speaking at the announcement, Chair of the ICO Ethics and Professional Standards Committee, Dr Patricia Quinlan said,

“The publication of these documents is an important step in ensuring greater support for patients as they consider the benefits and risks of a particular procedure.  Equally, the guidelines will provide guidance for doctors, whose primary focus is diagnosis and treatment, in ensuring their patients have the appropriate information and support to make an informed decision.”

The patient information leaflets outline the nature, purpose, risks and benefits of a proposed intervention for the most common eye conditions requiring treatment in the Irish health service. They include cataract, one of the highest volume day case procedures in Ireland featuring in the top 20 day case procedures performed annually in public hospitals since 2005. [2]

Among the other eye conditions covered in the new ICO patient information leaflets are wet age-related Macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic macular oedema, retinal vein occlusion, strabismus (squint) and glaucoma.

In order to ensure the information is accessible to all, the documents have also been produced in audio and Clear Print format for those with reduced vision, in collaboration with the NCBI, Ireland’s National Sight Loss Agency.  All formats are available on the ICO website www.eyedoctors.ie  

Welcoming the publication of the documents, Greg Price, Assistance National Director of the Quality Improvement Division at the HSE addressed delegates at the meeting and said;

“Person-centred care is about putting the patient, their family members and carers at the heart of their treatment and empowering them to be partners in decision making. These information leaflets published by the ICO today will enable patients to understand the procedure that they are undertaking, to seek further information if they need it and to make decisions that are best for them.”

The theme of the ICO Winter Meeting was the integration of hospital and community care. Mr Billy Power, President of the ICO said the training body is eager to see the publication of the HSE primary eye care report and the Clinical Programme for Ophthalmology Model of Eye Care document and to secure commitment from the Government and Department of Health for the necessary funding to be allocated for its implementation.

Mr Power said, “The primary eye care report will provide a blue print for the delivery of primary eye care services drawing on a model of care where stable patient cases will be looked after at community level. This transfer of care to the community will increase capacity for new patients to be seen in the hospital. It is of great concern to the ICO that ophthalmology has the longest waiting list for inpatient/day case surgery according to the latest NTPF figures and increased access to theatre space will enable surgeons to tackle the current unacceptably high inpatient eye procedure list.”



[1] National Consent Policy QPSD-D-026-1.V.1

[2] Health Research and Information Division E. Activity in Acute Public Hospitals in Ireland 2010. 2011.

1st December 2016