Doctors in a busy hospital do not act in a perfect world; they do not have unlimited time in which to consider properly all the issues and risks, no matter how remote, that may affect a patient’s decision.
Many doctors sometimes delegate the task of explaining the risks to patients to assisting doctors, trainees, or other hospital staff.
Although doctors are entitled to pass to others the responsibility of explaining risks, they still bear the liability if those others do not properly advise patients. It is the legal responsibility of the treating doctor to obtain informed consent from his or her patient, and to advise the patient of all material risks.
There is now sufficient case law to suggest that one of the material risks involved in any procedure, which ought to be advised to patients, is the fact that a trainee or inexperienced doctor, rather than the treating consultant or specialist, might undertake the treatment.
Post your response to the following prompts:
•How would you go about explaining to a patient that a trainee or inexperienced doctor was to be involved in the procedure, or may be carrying out some or all of the procedure?
•Discuss circumstances in which the patient is clearly nervous about the outcome and requests more information.
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