Healthcare Professional Standards in Pandemic Conditions: The Duty to Obtain Consent to Treatment

Sarah Devaney, Jose Miola, Emma Cave, Craig Purshouse, Rob Heywood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the United Kingdom, the question of how much information is required to be given to patients about the benefits and risks of proposed treatment remains extant. Issues about whether healthcare resources can accommodate extended shared decision-making processes are yet to be resolved. COVID-19 has now stepped into this arena of uncertainty, adding more complexity. U.K. public health responses to the pandemic raise important questions about professional standards regarding how the obtaining and recording of consent might change or be maintained in such emergency conditions, particularly in settings where equipment, medicines, and appropriately trained or specialized staff are in short supply. Such conditions have important implications for the professional capacity and knowledge available to discuss the risks and benefits of and alternatives to proposed treatment with patients. The government’s drive to expedite the recruitment to wards of medical students nearing the end of their studies, as well as inviting retired practitioners back into practice, raises questions about the ability of such healthcare providers to engage fully in shared decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789–792
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Early online date9 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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