How Nurse Administrators Understand Informed Consent

All medical procedures come with potential complications; that’s simply part of the care process. Patients deserve clear communication, so they understand what to expect regarding preparation, anesthesia, aftercare and follow-up. To ensure clarity throughout the healthcare process, nurses must follow “rules” for engaging. One such standard is informed consent.

According to Healthline, “informed consent is when a healthcare provider — like a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional — explains a medical treatment to a patient before the patient agrees to it. This type of communication lets the patient ask questions and accept or deny treatment.”

Informed consent is not taken lightly in the healthcare field. Each healthcare provider goes through a step-by-step process to ensure healthcare workers listen to patients’ concerns rather than just talking at them.

The process for informed consent includes the following elements:

  • Determine whether the patient can comprehend the decision
  • Thoroughly explain the information so the patient can make their decision
  • Verify patient understands what this means for them
  • Obtain the patient’s voluntary decision to pursue or decline further treatment

Most healthcare facilities encourage patients to sign an informed consent document to legalize the decision and provide written evidence, which allows the process to go smoothly and reinforces that the patient has full control over their health decisions.

The Role of Nurse Leaders and Administrators

Nurse leaders and administrators play an essential role in the decision-making process of informed consent.

American Nurse states, “nurses partner with patients to design the plan of care, providing teaching and engaging in simple consent processes. For example, nurses use anywhere from five to 12 rights of medication administration and seamlessly integrate education and consent into these moments.”

Although most nurse leaders and administrators do not interact with patients as often as registered nurses in care units, they still teach other nurses to seek informed consent from all patients. Furthermore, they instill this procedure into the ethics of their nursing team in order to serve the public with integrity.

In certain situations, nurse leaders and administrators are the ones who talk with the patients directly about specific treatment options and ask them for their consent regarding the decision on the matter. They step in when needed and can effectively communicate the answers to important questions patients might have.

Issues Obtaining Consent

Nurses might encounter agitated patients when trying to obtain consent from them, which can prolong the attempted informed consent period and cause the patient to enter into a critical condition. Agitation can occur when the patient needs help understanding the options or if they do not want to discuss their decision at the time.

Additionally, sometimes patients cannot give informed consent because they potentially have a condition which does not allow them to make decisions on their own. If this is the case, nurses must consult the patient’s family regarding the best option. This process could take time because all family members must agree.

Healthline states, “if a patient’s relatives are not available, or if they are in a life-threatening situation, a healthcare provider can perform the necessary life-saving procedures without consent.”

Up-Level Informed Consent Skills With a Master’s Degree

One way to prepare for implementing and adhering to informed consent protocols as a nurse administrator is to further your career and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Those who enroll in the MSN in Nursing Administration online program at Radford University will expand their nursing career and prepare for leadership positions.

Students will execute coursework that includes extensive looks at healthcare systems and policy, leadership issues and factors affecting organizational practice. They can achieve this in as few as 12 months, thanks to the accelerated nature of the program.

The intensive program allows all students to provide organizational and system leadership that emphasizes the importance of professional accountability, ethical decision-making, collaborative relationships and protection of human dignity and diversity. For example, the Healthcare Systems & Policy course covers the basics of legal and regulatory processes in healthcare systems and obtaining patient consent. In the Ethical and Legal Issues in Practice course, students focus on the ethical and legal principles impacting healthcare systems.

Each future nurse leader will obtain the knowledge and skills required to enter influential roles in healthcare, such as chief nursing officer, director of nursing or nursing administrator.

Learn more about Radford University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.

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