Assignment: Process of Consenting Patients
Assignment: Process of Consenting Patients
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NUR3826 Ethical and Legal Aspects of Nursing
Week 2 discussion
DQ1 Are you knowledgeable about your own state statutes and regulations regarding informed consent?
1. Discuss the law or rules of informed consent in your state or workplace organization.
2. What ethical issues should be realized by practicing nurses in regards to consent?
3. How does the process of consenting patients for genetic testing differ?
4. Many patients or family members ask nurses for further clarification regarding genetic testing and often the response is in terms of what the health care provider himself or herself would do. Discuss this phenomenon and include the concept of “paternalism” in your remarks.
DQ2 Please thoroughly review the “Effective Documentation” and Electronic Medical Record (Computerized Charting)” content from Chapter Nine of the Guido (6th ed.) textbook.
Informed consent is a process in which a health care provider educates a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a given procedure or intervention. The patient must be competent to make a voluntary decision about whether to undergo the said procedure. Informed consent is both an ethical and legal obligation of medical practitioners in the US and originates from the patient’s right to direct what happens to his/her body. Implicit in providing informed consent is an assessment of the patient’s understanding, rendering an actual recommendation, and documentation of the process. The Joint Commission requires documentation of all the elements of informed consent “in a form, progress notes or elsewhere in the record.” The following are the required elements for documentation of the informed consent discussion: (1) the nature of the procedure, (2) the risks and benefits and the procedure, (3) reasonable alternatives, (4) risks and benefits of alternatives, and (5) assessment of the patient’s understanding of elements 1 through 4.
It is the obligation of the provider to make it clear that the patient is participating in the decision-making process and avoid making the patient feel forced to agree to with the provider. The provider must make a recommendation and provide his/her reasoning for said recommendation.
Issues of Concern
Adequacy of Informed Consent
The required standard for informed consent is determined by the state. The three acceptable legal approaches to adequate informed consent are (1) Subjective standard: What would this patient need to know and understand to make an informed decision? (2) Reasonable patient standard: What would the average patient need to know to be an informed participant in the decision? (3) Reasonable physician standard: What would a typical physician say about this procedure?
Many states use the “reasonable patient standard” because it focuses on what a typical patient would need to know to understand the decision at hand. However, it is the sole obligation of the provider to determine which approach is appropriate for a given situation.
Exceptions to Informed Consent
Several exceptions to the requirement for informed consent include (1) the patient is incapacitated, (2) life-threatening emergencies with inadequate time to obtain consent, and (3) voluntary waived consent. If the patient’s ability to make decisions is questioned or unclear, an evaluation by a psychiatrist to determine competency may be requested. A situation may arise in which a patient cannot make decisions independently but has not designated a decision maker. In this instance, the hierarchy of decision makers, which is determined by each state’s laws, must be sought to determine the next legal surrogate decision maker. If this is unsuccessful, a legal guardian may need to be appointed by the court.
Children and Informed Consent
Children (typically under 17) do not have the ability to provide informed consent. As such, the parents must give permission for treatments or interventions. In this case, it not termed “informed consent” but “informed permission.” An exception to this rule is a legally emancipated child who may provide informed consent for himself. Some, but not all, examples of an emancipated minor include minors who are (1) under 18 and married, (2) serving in the military, (3) able to prove financial independence or (4) mothers of children (married or not). Legislation regarding minors and informed consent is state-based as well. It is important to understand the state laws.
Informed consent is required for many aspects of health care. These include consent for:
dissemination of patient information,
discussion of HIPPA laws,
blood transfusions, and
Obtaining informed consent in medicine is process that should include: (1) describing the proposed intervention, (2) emphasizing the patient’s role in decision-making, (3) discussing alternatives to the proposed intervention, (4) discussing the risks of the proposed intervention and (5) eliciting the patient’s preference (usually by signature). Discussion of all risks is paramount to informed consent in this context. Most consent includes general risks, risks specific to the procedure, risks of no treatment and alternatives to treatment. Additionally, many consent forms express that there are no guarantees that the proposed procedure will provide a cure to the problem being addressed.
Patient safety is a major focus in health care, and effective informed consent is considered a patient safety issue. The Joint Commission recently addressed the challenges to ensuring effective informed consent. The emphasis of a patient signature as an indication of understanding is being called into question. The process of informed consent is shifting to focus more on communication and less on signatures. Studies of informed consent have found that there are many barriers to obtaining effective informed consent. One major barrier is that some consent forms contain language that is at too high a reading level for many patients. Use of visual and digital communication tools is being encouraged to address some the inefficiencies in the process of obtaining consent. Patients should be actively engaged as a way to enhance communication and ensure patient safety and understanding.
Informed consent may be waived in emergency situations if there is no time to obtain consent or if the patient is unable to communicate and no surrogate decision maker is available. Also, not every procedure requires explicit informed consent. For example taking a patient’s blood pressure is a part of many medical treatments. However, a discussion regarding the risks and benefits of using a sphygmomanometer usually is not required.
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