Last call for informed consent: confused proxies in extra-emergency conditions


Abstract

Informed consent has become a part of medical practice in Albania only recently, during a time when there has been a substantial increase in claims of malpractice. Its original aim was to provide patients with information to help them make decisions on particular health interventions. We describe the case of a patient who developed an unexpected surgical complication and desperately needed a second intervention, and the futility of obtaining informed consent in the setting of a medical emergency. The circumstances of the emergency might turn out to be too complicated and confusing for the proxies. The, role of proxies is not defined in the Albanian laws and bylaws. Seeking and eventually obtaining the necessary signatures and permissions in an emergency cannot be justified because the lack of time in such circumstances might be a major obstacle to sound and comprehensive communication, and lack of communication could give rise to mistrust, with all its potential consequences.

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