Patient can’t give consent

‘Business Dilemmas

Kathryn Leask

Kathryn Leask

Le Penseur de Rodin (Laeken - Belgique)A consultant seeks help when there is a clash between a patient’s religious beliefs and treatment. Dr Kathryn Leask gives her view





Dilemma 1

Should we delay this operation?

notesQ I am an anaesthetist working in private practice. I have just reviewed the records of the first patient on the orthopaedic theatre list and noted that the records stated ‘Jehovah’s Witness – no blood’.

The person who carried out the pre-operative assessment has not noticed this. The patient has early onset dementia and I don’t believe he would be able to give informed consent to the use of blood products.

I have alerted the theatre team, but the consultant surgeon wants to proceed and give blood products if required. I’m unsure what to do. The procedure is non-urgent.

There does not appear to be an advance decision to refuse treatment in place nor a relevant power of attorney. The patient’s granddaughter is on route to the hospital and will be here within the next couple of hours and she is his only relative.