J.S., a 72-yr-old woman, is waiting in the preoperative holding area.
You are discussing her impending surgery when you realize that this
competent adult does not fully understand her surgery and was not
informed of the alternatives to this surgery. Although she has
previously signed a consent form, your assessment is that she was not
fully informed about her treatment options or does not recall them.
Ethical/Legal Points for Consideration
• Informed consent requires that patients have complete
information about the proposed treatment, as well as alternative
treatments, risks and benefits of each treatment option, and
possible consequences of the surgical procedure. The person
(usually the surgeon) performing the procedure usually has this
• An opportunity to have questions answered about the various
treatment options and their possible outcomes is a crucial
element of informed consent.
• A patient can revoke the consent at any time, even at the very last
minute. It is essential that you report any circumstance that
suggests that the patient does not understand the information or
is revoking the informed consent to the person who obtained the
• In most states, the registered nurse’s legal role is to witness the
signing of the document. This means that as a nurse, you attest to
the fact that the patient’s signature was valid.
1. What do you think you should do next?
2. What is your role as a patient advocate in the informed consent
3. What should you do if the patient states that she does not want
to know about the surgical procedure or alternatives to
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