Consent to treatment: All you need to know

A person’s voluntary agreement to receive medical care, treatment, or services is referred to as consent to treatment.

A healthcare provider must provide enough treatment information and options for the patient to make an informed decision. People have the freedom to refuse treatment and information if they do not want it. They have the right to revoke their consent at any moment.

Continue reading to learn more about treatment consent, when it’s appropriate, and how it affects children, people, and those on life support.

Definition

consent to treatment

The agreement that an individual makes to receive medical treatment, care, or services, including tests and examinations, is known as consent to treatment. Anyone who has the ability to decide whether or not they want treatment must give their consent.

Consent is only legitimate if it is freely given and informed, and it comes from a person who is capable of doing so. The term “voluntary consent” refers to a person’s decision to consent to treatment. Healthcare professionals, friends, and family members are unable to sway or persuade the individual to make a decision.

In order to obtain informed consent, the healthcare provider must disclose information about the therapy, including the benefits and hazards, as well as alternate treatment options. They must also inform the individual of the consequences of refusing the suggested treatment.

An individual must be able to comprehend the information presented and use it to make an informed decision about whether or not to agree to treatment.

Healthcare providers have an ethical and legal obligation to provide information about various treatment alternatives in order to assist people in making an informed decision. This contains the risks, potential consequences, and, if applicable, alternative solutions. Information might be given orally or in writing by healthcare providers. They might also contain audio or video content.

Individuals have the right to request information prior to receiving any medical treatment. It is up to them to ask questions and make sure they comprehend the material. They can also request treatment options not recommended by their doctor.

People have the right to refuse some or all of the therapeutic alternatives available to them. Healthcare providers must respect an individual’s decision to consent to or refuse treatment, even if it may result in their death or the death of their unborn child.

After giving consent, a person has the right to change their mind and withdraw consent at any time, even if the treatment has already begun.

Exceptions

In some situations, healthcare providers can offer treatment to people who are unable to consent to treatment and do not have a durable power of attorney in place (LPA). They may do so if they believe the treatment is in the person’s best interests. When possible, the healthcare staff will consult with the individual’s family or friends about treatment alternatives.

People who are aware that their ability to consent will deteriorate in the future, such as as a result of a degenerative health condition or a learning disability, may choose to establish a living will. This is a legal document that spells out the surgeries and treatments a person will not accept.

Individuals can create a Living Will, which gives someone else the legal authority to make medical choices on their behalf. People can still choose which therapies they do not want.

How to give consent

Consent to treatment can be given in writing, or verbally or nonverbally by a competent person.

Written consent entails filling out and signing a consent form, which serves as a legal document authorizing the doctor to proceed with the treatment. Consent forms ensure that doctors deliver accurate information about a patient’s medical condition and treatment options, and that the patient chooses the best option for them.

Nodding the head, extending the arm for a blood test, or opening the mouth during a dental exam are examples of nonverbal assent, also known as implied or implicit agreement. Verbal consent is sometimes referred to as explicit consent by doctors.

For consent to be legitimate, it must be given willingly and voluntarily. They must also be aware of the recommended treatment and comprehend why it is required. Other people are not permitted to encourage or coerce a person to accept or refuse treatment.

Children and people

Children under the age of 16 can consent to treatment on their own if healthcare providers determine that they have Gillick competence, which is defined as the intelligence and capacity to fully comprehend the treatment. Individuals who do not have this ability must obtain parental consent.

In the majority of circumstances, young people aged 16 or 17 have the capacity to consent to treatment without the involvement of a parent or guardian.

A court or a person with parental authority can overrule a young person’s or child’s decision to refuse medical treatment if doing so will result in death or a severe permanent damage.

Life support

If supportive treatments like lung ventilation are keeping a person alive but they did not specify which treatments they would refuse, the healthcare team must speak with the individual’s family and friends.

Together, they must decide on the continuation or cessation of treatment. They must base their decision on the individual’s best interests. They can think about the person’s chances of recovery and quality of life if they stay on treatment. If everyone believes that stopping treatment is in the best interests of the individual, they can do so.

When is consent not required?

Although unusual, healthcare practitioners do not require consent to treatment from someone who is unable to make their own decisions.

When a person is unconscious, circumstances may exist that do not require consent for treatment. Medical experts can only offer the therapies that are required to keep a person alive and safe in certain situations. When feasible, healthcare providers should consult with the individual’s family or friends before making any decisions.

People who lack the mental capacity to understand the treatment options are unable to consent to treatment. In these situations, the healthcare team must make judgments that are in the best interests of the patient.

Conclusion

Treatment consent is an important and vital component of medical treatment.

It means that before receiving any form of treatment, a person must provide their consent. This includes surgeries, diagnostics, and drugs, among other things. People must thoroughly comprehend what they are consenting to and, if required, raise questions.

Healthcare practitioners have a legal and ethical obligation to inform patients about treatment options and possible outcomes.

A patient must be capable of making a free and informed decision about treatment consent. At any point, they have the right to refuse treatment, request an alternate treatment, or withdraw consent.

Sources

  • https://www.aomrc.org.uk/statements/academy-statement-gillick-competency/
  • https://www.birthrights.org.uk/factsheets/consenting-to-treatment/
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/consent-to-treatment/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-is-consent
  • https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/planning-managing/informed-consent.html
  • https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/rp_poc1b_100476_20110331_v1_00_sn_consent_updated_for_publication.pdf