What is the nurse’s responsibility for informed consent?
Patients must give consent before any type of medical treatments can be given. Informed consent means that the patient agrees to and understands the procedure after being informed of the risks, benefits, alternatives, and consequences. A witness must observe as the patient signs the consent form (Catalano, 2009).
In most cases, is not the nurse’s responsibility to obtain consent from patients for medical procedures. However, nurses are often asked to witness the patient’s signature on the consent form. After the nurse has witnessed the patient sign the consent form, the nurse signs the document as well. The nurse’s signature as a witness indicates that the patient voluntarily gave consent, the patient’s signature is authentic, and patient appeared competent to give consent (Staunton & Chiarella, 2005).
While the doctor is responsible for providing the patient with information about the proposed treatment plan, the nurse should make sure that the patient has full understanding. Patients often feel more comfortable speaking with nursing staff than physicians. “They are the most frequent source of contact and conversation in a hospital and patients often relate more readily to the nursing staff for that reason” (Staunton & Chiarella, 2005, p. 115). Once the nurse-patient relationship has been developed, the nurse should encourage the patient to voice any concerns or questions about the treatment plan so that they can be addressed. If the nurse believes that the patient does not fully understand the procedure to be performed, the patient’s doctor must be notified without delay (Staunton & Chiarella; Catalano, 2009).
Nurses should obtain consent from patients before performing even basic nursing care procedures. Aveyard (2005) found that nurses often assume that patients have given consent for basic treatments such as bathing, feeding and ambulation. Nurses simply begin the care and...