Does marijuana use prevent medical consent or consent for surgery?

Published Aug 27, 2019 09:00 a.m. ET
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Marijuana legalization has taken place in many states so far; however, there are still some states with laws that forbid the use of marijuana. There are different forms of using recreational marijuana such as smoking, vaping and by consuming edibles. Medical marijuana has become a popular subject for research in today's society, and since the legalization, marijuana use has become more prevalent. Medical practitioners must take precautions when obtaining medical consent from patients. The University of Mississippi is a facility that permits the cultivation of marijuana for purpose of research.

THC is one of the main active compounds found in cannabis that has psychoactive properties, and recreational marijuana users usually smoke or eat marijuana edibles with high THC levels to get high. While another compound, CBD has no psychoactive property and will not get a user high, so people suffering from many ailments may use CBD to treat their symptoms.

Cannabis users doing medical procedures

Marijuana use can cause side-effects. In some cases, cannabis use may worsen symptoms related to asthma, bronchitis and emphysema and a high concentration of THC may increase seizures in individuals. There is also evidence to show that frequent users of marijuana products with high levels of THC will usually require needing more opioid to treat post-operative pain. These users may also need more anesthetics.

If a cannabis user should require medical attention, this must be stated to nurses, doctors, etc. and they, in turn, should be mindful that an individual may have consumed cannabis before any procedure is done. Assessment should be done, and the anesthetic provider should be notified so he or she can determine the risk. A high risk of complications during surgery may be a reason for postponing surgery.              

Nurses should also ask patients if they have consumed cannabis before, and if the patient has then specific information should be provided such as the method, dosage and frequency of use is also important. If needs be, nurses can also advise patients to refrain from smoking marijuana before surgery.

It may be wise to allow a patient to continue using the drug if the patient is a chronic user in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Some withdrawal symptoms include agitation, craving and muscle cramps, among others, but for precaution, patients can vape or chew cannabis gum to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Can cannabis users consent to surgery?

Moreover, you may be wondering whether a patient can give consent to surgery if they have recently used cannabis. The American Surgical Association states that if a patient looks intoxicated, then the patient is unable to sign. However, a patient is fit to sign a consent form for surgery if he/she look normal mentally and seems to have requisite competence.

Also, if a patient is in to do a surgery, but he or she is under the influence of cannabis and has an increase in the bloodstream, the risks may be great. A consent given before may be valid, and the patient may still be able to consent to surgery. The decision regarding consent is usually left to the medical practitioner's own judgement.

Furthermore, doctors usually carry out a drug test to find out if a patient is intoxicated, especially when they come to the emergency room.

In conclusion, it is important to know that marijuana use can affect your ability to give consent to surgery and whether or not a patient is fit to give consent depends on the doctor's judgment.

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