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Informed consent: it is more than just a document.

  • Wilhite, C Leigh
Published Article
Plastic surgical nursing : official journal of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Nurses
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2010
DOI: 10.1097/PSN.0b013e3181fd3885
PMID: 21217375


With litigation in the forefront of the minds of most healthcare professionals today, obtaining valid, fully informed consent from patients means that no recovery should be allowed in a court of law against that provider for treating, examining, or operating on a patient without his or her informed consent when (1) the action of the provider in obtaining the consent of the patient, or person authorized to give consent, was in accordance with an accepted standard of practice and/or (2) a reasonable individual with information provided by the practitioner, under the circumstances, would have a general understanding of the procedure, the medically acceptable alternative procedures or treatments, and the substantial risks and hazards inherent in the proposed treatment or procedures, which are recognized among providers, in the same or similar community, who perform similar treatments. Most courts do not permit recovery against a provider if the patient would reasonably, under all the surrounding circumstances, have undergone such treatment or procedure as he or she had been advised by the provider. A consent that is evidenced in writing and meets requirements, if validly signed by the patient or another authorized person, raises a rebuttable presumption of a valid consent. A valid signature is the one that is given by a person who under all the surrounding circumstances is mentally and physically competent to give consent. Armed with this knowledge, the plastic surgical nurse will understand that informed consent is far more than just a document signed by the patient that becomes part of his or her medical record.

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