Consent conundrums: patient consent in neuroscience nursing

Consent conundrums: patient consent in neuroscience nursing
John Finch
British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 25 February 2020; 16(1)
In BJNN 15(4) and BJNN 15(5), John Finch looked in detail at the role of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its accompanying Code in the practice of neuroscience nurses. He concluded, as have others, that the guidance offered by the Act and the Code falls short of what neuroscience nurses need in their practice. In this article, he turns his attention to the treatment of patients who can and do consent to proposed treatment. The law relating to such patients in this matter offers neither an act nor a code. The law is to be found in court decisions. It might, at first sight, appear that a practice situation in which a patient with undoubted mental capacity or, at least, sufficient mental capacity to understand and accept what is proposed, presents no legal problem. But a closer examination of mental processes encountered in patients who may be in pain, distress and pressing need reveals that communication between the treater and the treated may be subtle and complex, and that the meeting of minds required in law to ensure that a patient has genuinely agreed to a detailed proposal is anything but simple.

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