Informed Consent among prisoners-Ethics

Essay by krisspsUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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Professional Ethics Opinion #2

Prisoners can give informed consent freely depending on the imprisonment they are serving. If they are imprisoned in a psychiatric facility, then they should not be able to give informed consent because they are not in the right mind to give the consent. However, if they were imprisoned criminally, which I will assume, then possibly they would be in the right mind to make this kind of judgment. Looking at the fact that they have no rights as citizens and have been confined, it may be possible for them not to. For this discussion, I will assume they are in the right mind. defines informed consent as "Consent by a patient to a surgical or medical procedure or participation in a clinical study after achieving an understanding of the relevant medical facts and the risks involved." According to the text, informed consent 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 to involve the patient in her health care.

The most important goal of informed consent is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in his health care decisions. It is generally accepted that complete informed consent includes a discussion of the following elements:

*the nature of the decision/procedure

*reasonable alternatives to the proposed intervention

*the relevant risks, benefits, and uncertainties related to each alternative

*assessment of patient understanding

*the acceptance of the intervention by the patient

In order for the patient's consent to be valid, he must be considered competent to make the decision at hand and his consent must be voluntary. It is easy for coercive situations to arise in medicine. Patients often feel powerless and vulnerable. To encourage the patient to volunteer,