Description: The authors of this book use a case-based approach to discuss four aspects of informed consent from an ethicolegal perspective.
Purpose: The book is designed to be a manageable resource to guide clinical healthcare professionals in understanding the basics and implications of informed consent and applying these in a clinical setting. Such a condensed and understandable book is valuable. Busy clinicians can use this book as a first step in managing complex ethicolegal clinical decisions regarding the application of informed consent. However, the brevity of the book lessens its impact, leaving readers with more questions than answers at times.
Audience: It is intended for healthcare professionals working in clinical fields in the U.K. The nature of the subject as well as the diversity of perspectives and fields presented in the many cases would be relevant for virtually any clinician. The authors represent diverse backgrounds and experience in bioethics, law, and medicine in the U.K.
Features: The authors use four aspects of informed consent (capacity, information and decision making, voluntariness, and continuing consent) to structure the book. After a brief discussion of the history of physician-patient relationships and the emerging preeminence of autonomy, the authors look at each aspect's ethicolegal significance, presenting a balanced account. This structure, as well as the glossary, makes the book easy to navigate and understand. The case-based approach is engaging and practical. The authors include a delightful list of further creative and informative reading, including fiction, nonfiction, and film. However, the authors attempt to tackle too much in a small book. Although this is intended as a primer, the use of legal cases, statutory law, and philosophical perspectives with limited discussion leads to confusion regarding both legal and ethical obligations.
Assessment: As a primer, this book is both practical and engaging for practitioners with a basic understanding of the legal and philosophical foundation of informed consent. Though certainly not as thorough as other books in the field (Resolving Ethical Dilemmas: A Guide for Clinicians, 4th edition, Lo (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009); Handbook for Health Care Ethics Committees, Post et al. (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine: Contemporary Readings in Bioethics, 8th edition, Steinbock et al. (McGraw-Hill, 2012)), it opens the door for further contemplation and discussion.