Informed consent: The nurse's dilemma

N. Tabak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The author builds upon the concept of informed consent whereby the patient agrees to undergo experimental medical procedures. Ideally, the doctor will inform the patient fully on the proposed treatment so as to assure the patient's right to participate intelligently and freely in the decisions regarding his treatment. The nurse is drawn into the doctor- patient relationship in cases where the patient seeks her counsel because he feels insufficiently informed by the doctor, or because the nurse becomes aware of inadequacies in the information-giving process. She is then faced by the nurse's dilemma: a conflict between the loyalties she owes to her patient and to her physician team mate. A work sheet is presented which can help the nurse decide upon the proper course of action in solving this dilemma, guided by her personal and professional beliefs and by specific ethical concepts in the Code for Nurses. Solution of the dilemma and attainment of informed consent requires willing cooperation between doctor and nurse. Both can develop the skills for imparting information to the patient under difficult conditions and for verifying its comprehension by the patient. Both must learn to respect the patient's decision and to temper their professional skills with sensitivity, a strong moral sense and a deep respect for their fellow human beings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Code for Nurses
  • Decision-making process
  • Informed consent
  • Patients' rights
  • Work sheet


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