Author(s)Thomas, Edwidge Jourdain, ANP, Dr.NP
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AbstractPatients seek the advice of health care providers regarding treatment options and protocols. When there is a condition with several treatment alternatives, patients generally rely on their health care providers to explore all the options available and guide them on the evidence-based treatment that would ensure the best outcome. This simple premise is complicated by the fact that there are often not one, but a range of treatments with differing interpretations of the best outcome. In addition, failure to ensure that patients have adequate comprehension of treatment options and complications often result in negative treatment outcomes. Cases where the treatment causes more harm than the disease generally lead to debates of whether observation without intervention is the optimal course. This article discusses a patient’s total reliance on the advice of the attending physician, who apparently failed to ensure that the patient had adequate comprehension of the long-term implications and complications resulting from a recommended surgical procedure. The ethical dilemma that emerged is analyzed, with emphasis on the concept of informed consent, by reviewing the patient’s surgical outcome and roles of the surgeon and primary care provider. The paper concludes by providing recommendations to ensure that patients are sufficiently informed before consenting.