Even though Mr. Tobias was apparently being tortured by the treatment, it was for his own good. The doctors were aware that refusing treatment was a common phenomenon among patients with similar injuries. Besides, the burn team that was attending to the patient had an excellent track record, which had seen them save the lives of a number of other patients who had very slim chances of pulling through. This suggests that this particular burn team had vast experience with patients who had suffered from Mr. Tobias’ condition, and as such they had the capacity to decide what was best for him. Mr. Tobias was simply being offered the same treatment that had been administered to several patients before him so the means they had chosen for ensuring the patient’s recovery were not unorthodox. In fact, Mr. Albertson, the chief of the unit had seen patients who had considered refusing treatment but later thanked the doctor and the burn team for persisting with the treatment. From the foregoing, it is evident that the hospital should continue treating the patient because it is for his own good.
The underpinning ethical principle of consent is the promotion of autonomy (Rob Burton and Ormrod 98). The concept of consent stipulates that any mentally competent adult has the right in the law to consent to any touching of their person. If they are touched without consent or any other lawful justification, then they have the right of action in the civil courts for suing for trespass to the person. However, most medical practitioners who provide treatment without consent are more often than not prosecuted under the offence of battery, which is a less serious offense compared the aforementioned trespass. In this regard, Mr. Tobias does not meet the three elements of consent. The patient is not only competent to make sound decisions but is also cognizant of the repercussions of his decision. In spite of this, he is being forced to accept the burn team’s treatment, which is tantamount to trespass to the person.
Rob Burton, Dr. and Graham Ormrod. Nursing : transition to professional practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. web.
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