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Informed consent is the process by which physical therapists (PTs) and other health care providers disclose appropriate information to empower patients to decide whether to accept or refuse treatment.1 Its elements include the nature of the procedure; reasonable alternatives to the proposed intervention; relevant risks, benefits, and uncertainties of each alternative; assessment of the patient’s understanding; and the patient’s decision, based on the preceding elements.2

Consider the following scenario, in which another aspect of care—collegiality and consensus among members of the interprofessional care team—comes into play.

Divergent Directions

At Mercy Hospital, an acute care hospital in the suburbs of a large Midwestern city, PTs work in close collaboration with other members of a multidisciplinary health care team to see that patients are discharged expeditiously but safely, with the tools they need for optimal recovery and minimal risk of readmission. The prevailing atmosphere of mutual respect and camaraderie is what has kept Lara at Mercy, despite a few opportunities in recent years to work elsewhere for higher pay.

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  1. Appelbaum PS. Assessment of patients’ competence to consent to treatment. N Engl J Med. 2007;357-1834-1840.
  2. De Bord J. Informed Consent. Ethics in Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Accessed June 18, 2019.
  3. American Physical Therapy Association. Five Things Physical Therapists Should Question. Accessed June 18, 2019.

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