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‘Autonomy’, ’patient choice’ and ‘informed consent’ are buzzwords used on every ward

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As students, these words are drilled into our brains and it is second nature to use them every day. As we aim to provide patient choice, we must hand back some decision-making to the person it will affect – the patient.

If we give an informed patient the responsibility to make decisions, why can’t we do the same with some of their care?

Sometimes I feel that nurses are reluctant to relinquish control of care to patients.

We consider self-care to be the ultimate aim, yet we take this autonomy away from patients. It may be necessary to do so for a short period of time but, as soon as patients are capable, we should hand back the responsibility of care to them and simply monitor that it is done.

For example, some patients with diabetes are well controlled and self-caring while others are not. But we actually appear to treat them all in the same way.

If patients with diabetes can monitor their blood glucose and administer insulin at home, why take this away from them when they are in hospital? If we prefer our monitors to be used in hospital, then give one of them to a patient to use.

Some nurses are thrown when patients say they should have more/less insulin at different times than it says on the drug chart. This is understandable, as charts are not always written in a flexible way.

I feel that some nurses believe it is their role to care for patients until discharge. However, by overprotecting patients, we may cause more problems than benefits.

By promoting self-care, we are not abandoning our patients, simply ensuring they will be safe and able to take care of themselves when they finally go home.

James Squires is a second-year adult nursing student in London

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