Principles of Informed Consent for Perinatal and Neonatal Nurses

Principles of Informed Consent for Perinatal and Neonatal Nurses
Rebecca L. Cypher
The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, January-March 2023; 37(1) pp 10-13
     An informed consent process includes a patient’s ability to make a decision, a conversation explaining pertinent information to make a choice, and an agreement to receive a definitive type of care. Malpractice disputes are sometimes centered on whether a patient received adequate consent from a clinician prior to a treatment or procedure. In fact, The Joint Commission reported 49 informed consent–related sentinel events over an 11-year period. Consent arguments may arise in perinatal and neonatal allegations when an action results in an adverse event. As an illustration, a family claims that an infant’s death from a subgaleal hemorrhage was caused by an operative vaginal birth. These allegations stem from an accusation that informed consent incorporating maternal and newborn risks was not attained beforehand.

Obtaining informed consent goes beyond a signature on a form. Consent for care is vital for communication and shared decision-making between a clinician (eg, physician or advanced practice nurse) and a patient, a newborn’s parent, or a guardian. This process is designed to provide precise measures that allow patients to have an opportunity to ask questions and make an informed decision. From a liability perspective, when individuals fully comprehend risks and benefits of a treatment, they may cope better with a less than optimal outcome resulting from any care provided. In some circumstances, patients may be less likely to file a malpractice claim. This column offers a primer addressing certain doctrines of informed consent in a perinatal or neonatal setting…

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