HS540 The Legal and Ethical issues in Nursing Care
In this essay the author will discuss both the legal and ethical issues concerned with gaining consent and the barriers that may affect gaining consent within a nursing environment. The author will also examine the physical, emotional and psychosocial issues around obtaining consent within this essay.
What is consent?
Originating for the Nuremberg trials 1947 consent is defined by the Minidictionary for nurses (2008) simply as an ‘agreement to undergo medical treatment or to participate in medical research.’ However the NHS (2012) gives a deeper meaning to it and states that ‘Consent to treatment is the principle that a person must give their permission before they receive any type of medical treatment.’ Therefore the authors’ understanding is that consent within a caring environment is an agreement with a practitioner and patient for treatment to be given. According to White (2004) consent can be obtained in three ways: Verbally, implied or written. Verbal consent is obtained by asking the patients permission and them replying verbally before commencing with any treatment. For example when taking a patient’s blood pressure the practitioner would ask the patient if it was ok for them to do so and the patient should reply with a yes or no response. Implied consent is similar to verbal however instead of the patient replying verbally for the treatment to proceed, they confirm or reject to the treatment via a gesture or shaking their head. For example after the individual has received all the required information they hold out their finger for their blood glucose to be taken. Obtaining consent in a written form may require the individual to sign a written record confirming their agreement to treatment i.e. a consent form. According to Lynch (2011) getting consent in a written form is by far the best method of proving valid consent was obtained. The Department of health (2009) state that ‘It is good practice to obtain written consent for any significant procedure, such as a surgical operation.’.
Consent is a fundamentally important element in providing the safest and best possible care to patients. For this reason healthcare professionals are responsible for gaining the consent of a patient for treatment to be given because proceeding with treatment without the appropriate consent is regarded as trespass against a person and in the English law, if a person is touched by a healthcare professional without consent it is considered to be a crime of battery Mason & Laurie (2010).
Several barriers exist that can majorly affect obtaining consent. Orshan (2008) explains that these can be client focused barriers or process-centred barriers. Client focused barriers include: age of the patient, education level of the patient,...