What exactly, is informed consent?
Informed consent is the process by which the treating health care provider discloses appropriate information to a competent patient so that the patient may make a voluntary choice to accept or refuse treatment. (Appelbaum, 2007)1 It originates from the legal and ethical right the patient has to direct what happens to her body and from the ethical duty of the physician / healthcare provider to involve the patient in his / her health care.” (via University of Washington School of Medicine)
Except for my birth, I was only hospitalized once, when critically injured in 1999. I was blessed to have been transported to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
The nurses and doctors assigned to me were the best of the best. In addition to the excellent care provided, I knew I was safe, physically and emotionally, at a most vulnerable time.
My care and treatment was more complex because of extensive media, legal and police involvement. While hospitalized, I witnessed nurses time and time again assuring my privacy and consent before allowing any visitors, including the wonderful two detectives assigned to my case.
Health care professionals and law enforcers are likely to work together, especially in times of crisis, crime and trauma. From my own experiences, I believe that the great majority of these situations are handled with mutual respect and adherence to basic patient rights.
I watched in outrage a Utah nurse's violent arrest putting patient consent law and police conduct in the spotlight. While this incident occurred in late July, Alex Wubbels, a nurse at the Burn Unit of the University of Utah, has only recently come forward with a video, which I’m sharing here in case you have not yet seen.
I will continue to believe that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.
News and media coverage will never capture the countless acts of ethical and competent treatment provided by both healthcare professionals and law enforcement officials.
I am so sorry this situation happened to Alex Wubbels. She is a patient advocate to the core of her nursing being. She is a shining example of the Golden Rule.
And I will remind my nursing students to be inspired by her example of ethical advocacy and professionalism.
I also hope this unfortunate situation will be shared far and wide to raise awareness in all about a nurse’s ‘ethical duty to act in the best interest of our patients at all times in all settings’ (Utah Nurses Association).
Until next time, thank a nurse for ‘having your back’ and taking good care of you,
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