Final Reflections

Clinical Ethics eSimulation Scenario

Consent: Final Reflections

A legal and ethical responsibility exists for healthcare practitioners to obtain a valid consent for all healthcare treatments. Decision-making capacity is arguably the central tenet of healthcare consent. Therefore, the assessment of decision-making capacity becomes an integral component of person-centred care and the preservation of patient rights. On the surface, this assessment and the giving of patient consent may seem a simplistic component of healthcare engagement, involving communication, disclosure, and agreement. In reality (and particularly within acute healthcare), it can be a complex process, influenced by patient goals, values, and preferences.

Any perceived, or actual, impairment of decision-making capacity can be a vehicle for the removal of some of an individual’s fundamental human rights, such as autonomous decision-making, and freedom of movement. Inadequate attention to legal and ethical standards in this context could also result in actions in battery and false imprisonment, negligence claims, and regulatory practice issues. It is therefore paramount that healthcare practitioners are cognisant of the legal and ethical requirements of consent to, and refusal of, treatment, including that of substitute mechanisms, in advocating for, and preserving the rights of patients in our care.