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Forgetting informed consent can put a nurse’s future at risk

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Nursing License Defense |

As the front line of medical care in California, nurses have a responsibility to take care of and advocate for patients. Your role as a caretaker is paramount in their treatment and recovery.

However, you also play the part of educator when it comes to your patients and the treatment they receive. Neglecting this role may put your nursing license at risk.

What is at stake if nurses do not properly inform patients?

As a nurse, you know that you must inform patients and their families about what treatment options they have. You must also make sure they understand these procedures fully. This includes addressing:

  • Pros and cons: A nurse must inform patients of the benefits and risks of a specific procedure proposed for their treatment plan.
  • Alternatives: It is essential to educate a patient about other treatment options available, and to inform them of that treatment’s pros and cons as well.
  • Competent decision-making: A nurse and other healthcare providers must determine if a patient is competent enough to make voluntary decisions about treatments. A patient even has the right to turn down specific treatments.

Failure to fulfill these responsibilities could lead to accusations of negligence. If a patient and their family were to claim you failed to provide informed consent, you could be at risk of losing your nursing license.

You can protect your patients and yourself

It is important to get your patient’s informed consent to give them the best possible care and protect your own career. With the persistent issues of understaffing and overworking in the healthcare industry, it is even more critical for nurses to be proactive on this front. It can help to:

  • Follow a mental checklist: Make it a habit to always explain to a patient and their loved ones the ins and outs of specific treatments and alternatives. It may even help to have a physical list of critical points for your patients to review.
  • Know your patient: Nurses have a wide array of patients in different conditions and states of competency. Take extra care to educate patients on treatments in a way that is best suited to them.
  • Keep up with documentation: It is important to document the process every step of the way. Note down what you told a patient or decision maker, who it was you spoke to and other relevant information.

Informed consent is a key component of medicine which ensures the best possible treatment for a patient. However, it is also essential in protecting nurses and other healthcare providers from allegations of negligence.

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