Informed consent prior to nursing care: Nurses’ use of information

Informed consent prior to nursing care: Nurses’ use of information
Research Article
Helen Aveyard, Abimola Kolawole, Pratima Gurung, Emma Cridland, Olga Kozlowska
Nursing Ethics, 20 June 2022
Informed consent prior to nursing care procedures is an established principle which acknowledges the right of the patient to authorise what is done to him or her; consent prior to nursing care should not be assumed. Nursing care procedures have the potential to be unwanted by the patient and hence require an appropriate form of authorisation that takes into consideration the relationship between the nurse and patient and the ongoing nature of care delivery.
Research question
How do nurses obtain consent from patients prior to nursing care?
Critical incident technique and the collection of critical happenings.
17 participants who were all qualified nurses took part in in-depth interviews
Ethical considerations
Ethical approval was obtained from the university ethics committee.
Information giving is a key component prior to nursing care procedures. Nurses provide information to patients as a routine aspect of care delivery, and do so even when the patient is unable to communicate themselves. Whilst some participants described how information giving might be rushed or overlooked at times, it is clearly an established part of nursing care and is provided to ensure the patient knows what to expect when care is delivered. What is less clear is the extent to which information is given in order to seek the consent – rather than merely inform the patient – about nursing care.
Implied consent is often an appropriate way in which consent is obtained prior to nursing care procedures. It takes into account the ongoing care provision and the relationship that exists between the nurse and patient. However implied consent should not be assumed. Nurses need to ensure that information is given not only to inform the patient about a procedure but to enable the patient to give his or her consent and to find an alternative way forward if the patient withholds their consent.

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