Informed Consent in Nursing Practice: Nurses Responsibilities

Informed Consent in Nursing Practice: Nurses Responsibilities

Obtaining informed consent for specific medical and surgical treatment is the responsibility of a physician. This responsibility is delegated to nurses in some private hospital and no law prohibits the nurse from being part of the information – giving process.

The practice however is highly undesirable. This is so because it is not right for you to obtain consent
for a procedure that you are not in control of. The person who is going to carry out the procedure and who knows what is involved in the procedure is in the position to obtain the consent as he is expected to explain to the client what is intended before asking for consent to carry it out. Since you are not the one that will perform the surgery nor are you the one to administer the anesthesia, you might not be in a good position to explain to the client what is involved and therefore should not be the one to obtain the consent.

Often your responsibility is to witness the giving of the informed consent for medical procedures.

This involves the following:
– Witnessing the exchange between the client and the physician.
– Establishing that the client really did understand, that is, was really informed.
– That the client freely or voluntarily gives his/her consent
– Witness the client’s signature or thumb printing

If you witness only the client’s signature and not the exchange between the client and the physician, you should write “witnessed signature only’’ on the form. If you find that the client really does not understand the physician’s explanation, then the physician must be notified.

Obtaining informed consent for nursing procedures is the responsibility of the nurse. This applies in particular to nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners performing procedures in their advanced practices. However, it applies to other nurses, including you, who perform direct care such as insertion of nasogastric tubes or administration of medication.

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