How Should Trauma Patients' Informed Consent or Refusal Be Regarded in a Trauma Bay or Other Emergency Settings?

AMA J Ethics. 2018 May 1;20(5):425-430. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2018.20.5.ecas1-1805.


The precipitous and unexpected nature of trauma requires training health care practitioners to think and act quickly, according to the best medical interest of the patient. The urgency of treatment for trauma patients, who frequently have temporary alterations in their abilities to make autonomous and competent decisions, often results in presumed consent for medically necessary treatment. Academic trauma centers use protocol-based management of injuries to facilitate their simultaneous evaluation by multiple clinicians and to avoid delays in treatment, ensuring that trauma patients receive the best possible care. In this article, we will discuss the issues of deferred informed consent and surgical education as they relate to trainees' graduated responsibility in the trauma bay.

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Emergency Medicine / ethics*
  • Emergency Treatment / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics*
  • Mental Competency