An Analysis of the Doctrine of Informed Consent in Nigeria’s Health Care Services

Patricia Imade Gbobo, Mercy Oke-Chinda


The patient’s right to consent to any medical treatment proposed by medical personnel is now internationally recognized. The principle of the right of the inviolable right of the individual to choose and to decide the circumstances of his health necessitates this consent.  The consent must be free, prior and informed.  Free implies that consent is not valid if obtained by manipulation or coercion.  Where consent is obtained involuntarily, by duress or coercion, it may result to an action for battery.  The consent must be voluntarily given by a patient who has legal capacity to give such consent.   Prior implies that consent must be sought sufficiently in advance of any authorization by the medical or hospital authorities or commencement of activities by a hospital that affects the health of the patient.  Informed means that the patient’s consent must only be sought after full and legally accurate disclosure of information concerning the proposed medical procedure. The disclosure must be in a form which is both accessible and understandable by the patient regarding inter alia the nature, scope, duration, potential risks and foreseeable implications of the medical procedure.  There must be full disclosure of information relating to treatment, benefit, risk involved, the complication and consequences of such procedure. The physician provides all the necessary information regarding a procedure or treatment to be carried out on the patient.In Nigeria, the issue of free, prior, informed consent in medical practice is poorly implemented. Several factors are responsible for this. Firstly, there is the problem of low level of literacy in Nigeria.  Illiterate patients tend to rely completely on the judgment of the physician.The second factor is the fact that the right to informed consent is poorly enforced. There is limited remedy available in Nigerian law to patients whose rights to informed consent have been breached. Furthermore, the mechanisms for enforcing the right to informed consent are hampered by bureaucracy.  This paper argues that Nigeria’s laws on informed consent is inadequate.

Keywords: Consent, Informed Consent, Healthcare, Legal implication, Patient.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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