Statutory Concurrence Of Consent For Of O&G Surgery Any Equity Or Fairness?
Lectures on Medical Jurisprudence are often laced with stern admonitions from educators on the need for the doctor-in- training to be wary of medico-legal tangles in his professional days. Among such issues are those related to custody, duty of care, and consent.
Prior consent needs to be obtained from patients lest the medical practitioner stands accused of assault...in the first instance...and manslaughter or even murder if death were to result from such medical procedure.
Consent may be implied or expressed. Expressed consent may be oral or written. Sundry medical examination within the confines of doctor's consulting rooms may require only implied consent derived from the fact that the examined patient willingly enters the hospital premises and registers....or otherwise books an appointment to see the doctor.
Consent needs to be expressed... perhaps merely oral, if more "intimate" examinations are planned...the chest in the female and genital areas in both sexes. Invasive procedures require that prior written consent be obtained from the patient. Extensive diagnostic and surgical process....minor, intermediate and major, belong to this category.
Written and signed consents must be witnessed...the best witnesses being close relations of the patient.
This leads me to the issue of information. Informed consent. The doctor is expected to have provided his patient with adequate information on the planned procedure, alternatives, pros and cons prior to obtaining consent. It is only after this that consent is deemed to be informed.
Procedures on body areas which are of mutual interests to couples require that consent be obtained from both parties. But my observation is that this latter prerequisite is observed more in abeyance as it is females that are usually bogged down with it.
While males undergoing elective urological surgery are not made to obtain consent from their wives as a condition for such procedures, married women are often asked to get concurrent legal consent from their husbands as a medico-legal precondition before obstetric and gynecological procedures are performed on them. Obvious exceptions being dire medical emergencies.
A situation where a man can literally stroll into a surgery for a vasectomy with little hassle other than his consent, while a woman with advanced carcinoma of the cervix is expected to obtain concurrent consent from her husband leaves much to be desired!
It is bereft of equity.... and fairness....
Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.