Policy, Legal, and Ethical Issues
Question 1:What public policy measures would you recommend or implement to help ensure that patients are (1) aware of their rights and the physician’s obligation to provide informed consent, (2)knowledgeable regarding the requirements for sufficient informed consent, and (3) better able to comprehend what is being communicated in the doctor-patient encounter?
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The overall respect of patients’ privacy, and the right to know of the obligations of the provider treatingthem, is known as autonomy. Autonomy in the biomedical realm outlines the ethical principle by whichproviders must stand by, ensuring that patients are given the information and environment in which theyare able to make their own decisions, without being coerced, influenced, or undermined. (Lemberg, 2019)It is important to note, that while autonomy gives patients the ability to make their own decisions making,it does not inherently mean that the provider will fulfill the patient’s requests. (Lemberg, 2019) Autonomyrelies on informed consent, which is the provider’s obligation to provide a patient with the required andsufficient information they need to make an informed decision about their care.
Informed consent wasfirst mandated in the Nuremberg Code in 1947 as a result of misconduct and crimes against humanity inthe form of medical experiments in Nazi Concentration camps. (Lemberg, 2019) Dilemmas aroundinformed consent are presented in situations when patients do not have the physical or mental capacity tomake their own decisions. (Lemberg, 2019) Down the road, this dilemma eventually led to an individual’sability to appoint a healthcare proxy, which is someone who the individual trusts to make decisions ontheir behalf in medical decisions if they are no longer able to do so themselves.Implementing policy measures to ensure patients sufficiently know their rights and are given the tools tomake informed consent decisions involves three factors, legal, ethical, and administrative measures.Having policy measures in all three pillars protects both patients and providers in facilitating anautonomous decision-making process in the care or treatment process.
Health Care organizations shouldcreate and hire a role within the organization for safety and compliance specialists. This role wouldprovide oversight and insurance that providers have practical tools and knowledge to be in fullcompliance with informed consent guidelines and legal obligations. One pilot program implemented byAgency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), has seen success in its training modules.(Shoenaker, 2018) AHRQ informed consent training modules can be utilized by healthcare organizationsto improve provider’s knowledge and attitudes towards informed consent policy. Additionally, dedicatedjob roles in patient safety and compliance can ensure that updated laws and regulations are updatedfrequently in the organization’s patient consent administrative process. Compliance specialists should also
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