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Informed Consent

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is the process in which a patient learns and understands the specifics behind their condition and an accompanying medical procedure or treatment. This includes risks, side effects, and benefits, as well as alternative options.

Depending on state laws and other factors, informed consent may be given verbally or through written documentation. Informed consent is a dynamic process, meaning healthcare professionals and patients should engage in consistent dialogue to ensure the patient is fully aware of all factors, both before and during a treatment or procedure.

Outside of rare cases, such as during emergencies when patients are unable to give consent, healthcare providers cannot make decisions without the informed consent of the patient. Patients may choose to withdraw informed consent at any time and for any reason.

Why is informed consent important in healthcare?

Patients have a right to know the specifics behind their health condition and the potential medical solutions available to them. Informed consent ensures that the process always moves forward with the full knowledge and voluntary approval of the patient.

Informed consent also allows the patient to make educated decisions as to the various factors within a particular procedure or treatment. For example, during the process of informed consent, a patient may choose to manage pain associated with a procedure or treatment without prescription medication, even if prescription medication is recommended by the healthcare professional.

A patient may use the process of informed consent to proactively refuse treatment entirely. In this case, a healthcare professional may request the patient sign written documentation of their informed consent, stating they were made aware of the risks of refusing all treatment but decided to do so anyway.