A Review of Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting Patients’ Right to Informed Consent and Autonomy in Medical Practice in Nigeria

A Review of Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting Patients’ Right to Informed Consent and Autonomy in Medical Practice in Nigeria
Chinemelum Nelson Arinze-Umobi, Godwin N Okeke
African Journal Of Law And Human Rights, 2020; 4(1)
Open Access
Abstract
Today, the fundamental principle of medical law and ethics is that a medical professional should obtain the informed consent of a competent patient before administering any form of treatment on such a patient. This is in tandem with the principle of autonomy (self-determination) which is intrinsic in every individual save for circumstances wherein the observance of this principle can legally be departed from. In clinical context, ‘autonomy’ connotes a patient’s ‘right to refuse and right to participate in every decision regarding medical treatment’. This study reviewed the socio-cultural factors inhibiting patients’ right to autonomy in medical practice in Nigeria. The study found that striking a balance between the opposing interests may be a difficult tasks as patients’ right to autonomy is case-specific and that a whole lot of factors operate in the social space and as a result, alter, from time to time, the standard, such that it becomes nearly impossible to apply the same standard in all instances. The study found that certain circumstances exist in the doctor-patient relationship wherein a patient lacks capacity to grant such consent to the medical professional – hence the need for such consent to be given on his/her behalf towards his/her best interests.

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