An 84-year-old adult male requires nonurgent surgery. The client is considered to have diminished decision-making capacity due to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The nurse questions his ability to provide informed consent for the procedure. The best action for the nurse to take in this situation is which of the following?

  1. as this is nonurgent surgery with few risks, allow the client to sign the consent form
  2. contact administrative personnel for a determination consistent with hospital policy
  3. have the client’s 54-year-old second cousin sign the consent form
  4. request the physician sign the consent form
Number 2 is correct.
Rationale: Signing a consent form for a client with diminished capacity requires involvement of legal personnel with expertise on state regulations on these cases. The administrative personnel need to make a determination consistent with hospital policy. Allowing the client to sign the form violates the principles of informed consent. Involving the client’s second cousin may be appropriate provided other more direct family members are unavailable. The physician is not able to sign for the client.