The Landscape of the Legal Aspects of Informed Consent for Medical Treatment in Papua New Guinea

The Landscape of the Legal Aspects of Informed Consent for Medical Treatment in Papua New Guinea
Alfred P. Minei, Rachelyn Ann S. Araña, Ronald R. Roldan Jr., Sam O. Kaipu
Journal of Health Science, 2019; 7
Open Access
Abstract
The major challenges militating against the proper practice of informed consent identified in our desk top review are related to cultural issues of the people. Many patients continue to value strongly their kinship ties with the past and believe in the traditional methods of healing sickness. The patients must be given some information about what the doctor proposes to do. The underlying spirit of informed consent is new in PNG, and it strives against the traditional attitudes of doctors that they know it best for the patients and the strong culture in customs and patients’ misconceptions that affect their perceptions in making important health care decisions. Majority of the patients have some notion of informed consent, however not many people understand what it is. They still hang onto their traditional customs, beliefs and opinions that affect their health care decisions; they often look to their village elders, family and parents for advice in times of sickness or death in the family but where the law implies consent it is not often obtained. Summarization of current laws, reports of legal cases, and personal experiences were examined. Special requirements must be prescribed when patients are subjected to medical treatment. Documentation of a well-defined process, not only on paper, may not only protect the medical doctor from exposure to liability but increases the patient’s autonomy in decisions concerning health and encourages compliance with treatment; and advances the interests of both patient and doctor. Lack of informed consent can reinforce a claim of medical malpractice, and could well undermine relevant health care policy to protect patient autonomy.

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