What Is Informed Consent?
- Doctors will give you information about a particular treatment or test in order for you to decide whether or not you wish to undergo a treatment or test. This process of understanding the risks and benefits of treatment is known as informed consent.
- Informed consent is based on the moral and legal premise of patient autonomy: You as the patient have the right to make decisions about your own health and medical conditions.
- You must give your voluntary, informed consent for treatment and for most medical tests and procedures. The legal term for failing to obtain informed consent before performing a test or procedure on a patient is called battery (a form of assault).
- For many types of interactions (for example, a physical exam with your doctor), implied consent is assumed.
- For more invasive tests or for those tests or treatments with significant risks or alternatives, you will be asked to give explicit (written) consent.
- Under certain circumstances, there are exceptions to the informed consent rule. The most common exceptions are these:
- An emergency in which medical care is needed immediately to prevent serious or irreversible harm
- Incompetence in which someone is unable to give permission (or to refuse permission) for testing or treatment
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/24/2015
Richard A Wagner, MD, PhD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor III, MD
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