Informed consent is an ethical concept—that all patients should understand and agree to the potential consequences of their care.
One of the earliest legal precedents was established in 1914 when a physician removed a tumor from the abdomen of a patient who had consented to only a diagnostic procedure. The judge in this case ruled that the physician was liable for battery because he violated an “individual’s fundamental right to decide what is being done with his or her body.” The bottom line is that failure to obtain informed consent renders any U.S. physician liable for negligence or battery and constitutes medical malpractice. Exceptions are made for emergencies or legally adjudicated mental incompetency or physical incapacity.
This form must be in the patient’s chart before surgery - the nurse is responsible for this. The nurse must also inform the physician if the client asks questions after signing the consent indicating that they do not fully understand the treatment or procedure.
The Basic Features of Everyday Informed Consent: The physician [not a delegated rep] should disclose and discuss:
- The diagnosis, if known
- The nature and purpose of the proposed treatment or procedure
- The risks and benefits of the proposed treatment or procedure
- Alternatives to the proposed treatment or procedure [regardless of cost or extent covered by the insurance company]
- The risks and benefits of the alternatives
- The risks and benefits of not receiving treatment or undergoing procedures