The Use of Informed Consent for Medication Treatment in Hospital: A Qualitative Study of the Views of Doctors and Nurses
Clinical Ethics 2007 March; 2(1): 36-41
The use of informed consent for surgery or research has been widely studied; however, its use in other areas of clinical practice has received less attention. This study investigates how doctors and nurses understand informed consent in relation to the prescription and administration of medicines in secondary care. It uses a qualitative analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 19 doctors and 6 nurses recruited from various specialties in a teaching hospital. The results indicate a striking gap between official and actual standards of practice. Providing information, assuring adherence and communication about potential treatment harms were raised as key issues instead of the principal goals of informed consent. Rather than simply treating these findings as support for a 'deficit' account of professionalism, the paper concludes that we need a richer and more grounded account of exactly when hospital medication decisions need to be subjected to the highest standards of informed consent.
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