If a patient’s life is not in danger, the treating doctor or facility must obtain the patient’s consent to treatment. No-one may operate on you or make you undergo a regime of treatment unless you have consented thereto. This is regarded as patient autonomy or self-determination. The simple question of consent becomes a little more complicated when considered with the information that one has to take into account when consenting to a procedure or regime of treatment. The law requires that a patient, when consenting, is fully aware of all of the information relevant to the treatment; such as:
- Was your condition correctly diagnosed with regard to all relevant aspects? (i.e. Nature, level of progression, etc.)
- Alternative methods of treatment.
- Inherent risks of treatment
- After-effects and side-effects
- Full information (condition, progression, effects etc)
Only once you are fully informed of all of the relevant factors, can you be said to have provided your informed consent. A risk, not disclosed by a health worker is material if a reasonable person in the patient’s position, if warned of the risk, would be likely to attach significance to it or if the medical practitioner is or should reasonably be aware that the particular patient, if warned of the risk, would be likely to attach significance to it.
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