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Informed consent: a review of the ethical and legal framework for medical practitioners and nurses.

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The purpose of this dissertation is to review legislation and ethical guidelines that help to inform the practice of healthcare workers on the undertaking of informed consent. The standard management of the healthcare worker and patient presides over open and voluntary consent, underpinned by ethical and legal foundations.1 The legal requirements of informed consent and the obligation to recognise the constitutional rights to privacy is laid out in chapter two of the National Health Act. 2 A meaningful discussion must include the material risks and provided in a manner that the patient has full understanding and is able to reflect on the options of the undertakings on his /her own health. 3 Globally, the bioethical principle of respect for patient autonomy, forms the guiding indicator for ethical practice of healthcare workers, defining the requirement for the establishment of trust through ongoing information discussion in the absence of coercion. 4 Ethically, morally, and legally, informed consent remains the fiduciary responsibility of the physician. 5 In Pandie v Isaacs,6 a case based on delictual negligence, as a result of the surgeon placing reliance on the nurse to undertake the task of informed consent, the responsibility of informed consent for surgery is explored and exposed.7 The principal conclusions of this study is to emphasise that informed consent practices among healthcare workers fall below the legal requirements, and to highlight the need to know the relevant legislative requirements and ethical guidelines in medical law for health care practitioners. Integration of ethics and legislative requirements into medical law and into doctor and nurse education are required to accomplish a meaningful patient relationship.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.