From medical student to junior doctor: accepting the responsibility of informed consent
Gaining informed consent is fundamental to a medical career, but understanding when, where, and why can be confusing. In the sixth part of the series, Richard Beasley and colleagues explain it all
Never before has the requirement for junior doctors to understand the theoretical and practical issues relating to informed consent been so important. With the increasingly litigious nature of medicine, rapidly changing public expectations of medical care, and advancing technology, junior doctors need to understand the principles of informed consent and be familiar with the practical requirements. Ensuring that patients give their informed consent to investigations and management is as fundamental to good medical care as sound clinical diagnosis and therapeutic management. Furthermore, obtaining and documenting informed consent is considered essential, to ensure that medical treatment is not only ethical but also legal.
Informed consent has three essential features:
In practical terms this requires that:
In legal terms this means that:
These principles are incorporated in the definition of consent: “The process whereby someone who has the capacity and competence to consent to a given treatment or procedure, having been given