© Mr Amer Karim (2016)
Mr Amer Karim
MBBS(London), DIC(Orth Eng), MD(Res)
FRCS(Trauma & Orth), FRSA(UK)
Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon
Full British Training & Specialist Certification
Consent To Treatment
What is Consent?
Consent is the principle that a person must give their permission before they receive any type of medical treatment. Consent is required from a patient regardless of the type of treatment being undertaken, from a blood test to an organ donation.
The principle of consent is one of the cornerstones of medical ethics. It is also enshrined in international human rights law.
What Constitutes Consent?
For consent to be valid, it must be voluntary and informed, and the person consenting must have the capacity to make the decision. These terms are explained below.
There are a few exceptions when treatment can go ahead without consent.
One main exception is if a person does not have the mental capacity (the ability to understand and use information) to make a decision about their treatment. In this case, the healthcare professionals can go ahead and give treatment if they believe that it is in the person’s best interests.
For simple diagnostic tests and situations in which consent is implied by your actions, a consent form is not needed. If you see your doctor and allow a blood sample to be taken for lab tests, your consent is assumed because you went to the doctor seeking care and allowed the blood to be drawn. At any point, you could change your mind and decide to refuse testing, leave the doctor's office, or seek care elsewhere. This is different from a treatment that puts you in a vulnerable position or can possibly cause serious harm. You need more information about more risky treatments so that you can weigh your options and consider your risks before making a decision.
Even when there are no other accepted medical treatment options, it is still your right as a competent adult to refuse a treatment that you do not want, or not to be in a study that you didn't choose. But once you sign the consent form, it is taken to be your formal, legal agreement that you are OK with the plan or procedure that is listed on the form unless you revoke (take back) your consent before treatment is given. The doctor or facility will usually give you a copy of the consent form, but they keep the original as a legal record that you agreed to the treatment.
The Consent Form I Use:
I use a custom consent form that is based on the form used in the NHS in the UK. Here the common complications and risks following orthopaedic surgery are pre-filled. Not all of them apply to every procedure, and the individual risks for the procedure you are going to undergo will be discussed with you when you sign the form. You will be provided with a copy of the form and one will be retained in your medical records.
The consent form also holds your patient details, confirms the side of the surgery and the anaesthetic used. Before any procedure is performed, the consent form is examined and confirmed amongst the staff members present to ensure that the correct procedure, side and anaesthetic are performed.