Concept of Consent

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Recent developments in standard of care and professional relationship with patients have made law fundamental to the study and practice of nursing. At every stage of patients care, law helps bring up to date nursing practice and it is essential that nurses understand the legal and ethical implications of law in their nursing profession (Griffith and Tengrah, 2011). The purpose of this essay is to discuss the concept of consent in relation to the role of the nurse. This will aim at demonstrate ethical and legal implication of consent on nursing practice and professional working. In the Code (2008, cited in Griffith and Tengrah, 2011) the Nursing and Midwifery Council set standards for nursing professional to follow. Among the rules is the requirement of nurses to obtain consent before care is given. Consent is an issue of concern for all healthcare professional when coming in contact with patients either in a care environment or at their home. Consent must be given voluntary or freely, informed and the individual has the capacity to give or make decisions without fear or fraud (Mental Capacity Act, 2005 cited in NHS choice, 2010). The Mental Capacity Act perceives every adult competent unless proven otherwise as in the case of Freeman V Home Office, a prisoner who was injected by a doctor without consent because of behavioural disorder (Dimond, 2011). Consent serves as an agreement between the nurse and the patient, and allows any examination or treatment to be administered. Nevertheless, consent must be obtained in every occurrence of care as in the case of Mohr V William 1905 (Griffith and Tengrah, 2011), where a surgeon obtain consent to perform a procedure on a patient right ear. The surgeon found defect in the left ear of the patient and repaired it assuming he had obtained consent for both ear. The patient sued him and the court found the surgeon guilty of trespassing. Although there is no legal requirement that states how consent should be given, however, there are various ways a person in care of a nurse may give consent. This could be formal (written) form of consent or implied (oral or gesture) consent. An implied consent may be sufficient for taking observation or examination of patient, while written is more suitable for invasive procedure such as surgical operation (Dimond, 2011). Furthermore, in nursing, professional may have to decide on a course of action that is ethically, legally and morally correct or acceptable by their society.

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