What CRNAs Need To Know About Informed Consent

Informed consent is a part of the job that all CRNAs need to know. Below, we’ll explain the basics of informed consent, its elements, and how it relates to the duties of CRNAs.

What Is Informed Consent?

Informed consent is one of the fundamental ethical principles in modern medicine and guarantees a patient’s right to self-determination. The medical-legal concept of informed consent as we know it first came about through various court cases in the mid-20th century that stated patients have the right to informed consent.

Basically, informed consent is the communication process between the patient and physician that leads to an agreement or permission for care, treatment, or services. The patient (or their legal representative) has the right to obtain all the information regarding a procedure or treatment and the risks involved before treatment can begin.

What Are the Elements of Informed Consent?

First, the physician must identify an appropriate person to provide informed consent to if the client is incapacitated or mentally unfit to receive and act on the information. Then, the physician will describe the treatment or procedure and provide written materials when possible.

The physician will also describe the risks involved, give their professional opinion on the patient’s options, and answer any questions. The patient can ask questions and obtain a second opinion if they want. If the patient consents to the treatment, they (or their representative) will sign a written letter of informed consent stating their approval.

Can a CRNA Obtain Informed Consent?

While we’ve mentioned physicians obtaining informed consent, can CRNAs obtain it? Yes, a CRNA or nurse will often take on the task of obtaining informed consent. Still, the physician or anesthesiologist will typically be the one to explain the gist and details of the treatment and risks involved.

Usually, the CRNA is the one who returns to the patient later to obtain and witness the written informed consent and answer further questions from the patient. For many CRNAs, it’s one of the basic parts of their responsibilities.

What Are Considered Violations of Informed Consent?

Informed consent is also an area where malpractice cases can occur due to a perceived or real violation of the patient’s rights regarding it. CRNAs need to know that failure to obtain informed consent or withholding pertinent information regarding the treatment or procedure and risks is a significant form of negligence and malpractice.

The most common violation of informed consent is inadequately warning a patient of the risks associated with the medical procedure. If complications arise, it’s not uncommon for patients or their representatives to feel deceived or insufficiently informed regarding the risks. For this reason, CRNA malpractice insurance is essential for all CRNAs.

If you’re a CRNA that needs malpractice insurance, Baxter & Associates is here for you. We will help you find a plan that ensures you’re covered should a malpractice claim arise from an alleged breach of informed consent.