Informed Consent to Breaking Bad News
Nursing Ethics 2002 January; 9(1): 61-66
Informed consent to breaking (or waiving) bad news is an important yet neglected topic. It is distinct from informed consent to diagnosis and to treatment, and may be logically and ethically sound, provided patients are competent and that no considerable harm may be caused to others by breaking or waiving bad news to patients. This requires a differential assessment procedure in order to balance patient autonomy, benefit and justice towards others, preferably exploring patients' values, expectations and needs with them, so that an acceptable decision can be made on whether to act on their consent to breaking or waiving bad news, or to ignore it and act on informed consent by proxy. Future study should attempt to provide a detailed characterization of procedures for attaining informed consent to breaking or waiving bad news, and to test their success in establishing ethically sound health care.
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