What is informed consent?

Informed consent protects your right to actively take part in medical decisions, and obtaining it is an ethical and legal requirement for anyone providing patient care.

The informed consent process involves a healthcare provider explaining the details of the treatment or procedure, and then receiving permission from you or your representative.

What is legally effective informed consent?

You have the right to understand the details of any medical procedure, the different treatment options available to you, and the potential risks involved before it goes ahead.

Legally effective informed consent is the voluntary “yes” you give when you are fully aware of the choice you make to do so.

A healthcare provider must give clear and comprehensive medical information, get consent from you or your representative, and document it in compliance with regulations.

Consent, whether oral or written, should avoid using language that excuses, blames, or absolves parties from responsibility.

Who can give informed consent?

You can provide informed consent if you have the decision-making capacity to understand the information provided, understand the implications of a medical procedure, and can make a voluntary decision.

Once you’ve got answers to any questions or concerns, you can fill out and sign procedure-specific paperwork, such as a counseling consent form.

When do I need a representative to give consent on my behalf?

Your healthcare provider may contact a family member, friend, partner, or designated decision-maker to provide signed consent on your behalf if you lack the physical or mental capacity to do so. 

This can occur in emergency situations when your life is at risk and immediate action is necessary.

If you are a minor, your parent or legal guardian is generally responsible for giving informed consent for your medical care.

But specific circumstances may allow for self-consent.

Can children provide informed consent?

In general, laws require minors to obtain consent from their parents or guardians.

However, these cases may grant minors the decision-making right:

  • Marriage
  • Military service
  • Financial independence / emancipation
  • Being a mother of children, married or not

Remember that the age of majority can vary — 18 is the standard — and so do consent laws.

For example, someone married or having children at age 16 in one US state doesn’t necessarily mean that they can make their own informed consent decisions in another state.

In such cases, it is necessary to consult a legal professional to determine how informed consent statutes are applied based on the state law where that individual is seeking medical care.

What medical treatments require informed consent?

Medical ethics require providers to get patient consent for any treatment or procedure that involves potential risks.

In some cases, you may need to provide written consent; in others, a verbal agreement may be enough.

Healthcare professionals must maintain a record of the consent process for various procedures, including:

  • Surgery
  • Biopsy
  • Medical implants
  • Blood transfusions
  • Genetic testing
  • Clinical trials
  • Anesthesia
  • Sharing personal information and medical records
  • Anything else aligned with HIPAA laws

Is informed consent my final say on a matter?

No, it’s not a final decision set in stone. It’s fine to change your mind at any time. 

One example: children who may transition into adulthood during the course of their medical treatment.

As they become adults, they can revise the previous decision and give new consent as they continue to receive care — or decide to cease receiving treatment going forward.

When can I waive informed consent?

You can waive informed consent when the treatment or procedure poses minimal risk. 

In emergency situations, healthcare professionals will likely discourage decision changes.

Their priority is to protect you as the patient from harm and themselves from potential liability. 

Protect your health and uphold your rights

Now that you understand the importance of informed consent, you can record informed consent decisions as needed and sign those documents electronically. 

Create your own telehealth informed consent or select a suitable form out from PandaDoc’s array of consent templates.

Using these templates, you can properly record your consent, protecting your rights and guiding your healthcare journey.

If you’re a healthcare provider, you can confidently offer these and other applicable medical forms to your patients, knowing that the care they receive aligns with legal requirements and respects patient rights.