Accountability of Professional Nurses: Informed Consent
Accountability of Professional Nurses: Informed Consent Informed consent is used as a safeguard to ensure the patient’s understanding of the care or procedure needed to treat a medical issue. It also ensures the patient’s understanding of any adverse effects that can occur due to the care or procedure needed. Verbal consent is usually obtained at the bedside when discussing what minor procedures or tasks need to be done, drawing blood, for example. Signed informed consents are mainly used for nonemergent invasive procedures or surgery (Smeltzer, Bare, Hinkle, & Cheever, 2008). According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), various procedures used for obtaining informed consent can be insufficient. One problem that arises from obtaining informed consent is the patient’s comprehension of the informed consent. They may not truly understand what is said because of the technical terms used. Many times a frightened patient’s state of mind does not allow them to comprehend what the doctor is telling them, or truly understand the risks involved, making the patient not really informed at all (Cunningham, 1996). Another problem is that there are over forty million illiterate adults in America (Kirsch, Jungblut, Jenkins, et al., 1993). This heightens the problem of these patient’s increased potential of not understanding what they are giving consent for. Some patients do not read the consent at all. According to one of several different studies conducted regarding insufficiencies of obtaining the informed consent, 69% of patients admitted that they did not read a consent form before signing it. In
addition, approximately half of the patients awaiting treatment were unhappy with the amount of information they received, with 21% stating that most of the information they obtained about their surgical treatment was obtained outside of the hospital. (Lavelle-Jones, Byrne, Rice, et al., 1993)
References: Cunningham, N. (1996). Fear and informed consent. American Journal of Nursing, 96(5), 66.
Lavelle-Jones, C., Byrne, DJ., Rice, P., et al. (1993). Factors affecting quality of informed
Smeltzer, S., Bare, B., Hinkle, J., Cheever, K., (2008). Textbook of medical-surgical nursing.