In the medical industry, there are some very strict laws for anyone who is in contact with patients. This is often due to the fact that there is a lot of risk involved in any kind of medical procedure and legal action can be taken if something doesn’t go to plan. One of the important laws surrounding surgical work involves informed consent.
Here, we are going to look at the process involved in getting informed consent that surgeons in the UK need to adhere to. We’ll also dive a bit deeper into what informed consent is and the case law that brought it into the spotlight.
What Is Informed Consent?
If you have not come across the issue of informed consent before in relation to the medical industry, you should know that this is based on important case law in the UK. This is known as the Montgomery decision which had a large impact on the number of claims that were made against healthcare professionals. As of 2015, healthcare professionals have a duty to inform any patients of the ‘material risks’ that they could face as a result of treatment. This is often seen as a process, rather than one conversation.
Below, we’ll look at some of the steps involved in this process.
The first step in the process involves obtaining the patient’s medical history. It is also important for the medical professional to obtain the patient’s social history, in order to complete the process entirely. The medical professional will then use this information to make an informed decision on what is the first move.
Consent for Ancillary Matters
The next step is the first part of consent and it involves getting this consent for any ancillary matters. This can include things such as clinical photographs that might be useful to determine what the right steps are to take. You can find out more about what ancillary matters are online.
Once the above steps have been taken, the medical professional needs to make sure that the patient is aware of any kind of risks involved in the treatment plan. This can be done in a few ways including informing them in a discussion and providing them with some information leaflets. If there is more information required, then the medical professional should provide this for the patient so that they are fully aware of the risks.
The final stage in this process involves getting the final consent from the patient. This can only be done once they have received all of the available information about the potential procedure of surgery. The professional will need to get written consent for some procedures in order to make sure that the entire process has been documented. In some cases, these steps can be taken by a family member if the patient is not able to give informed consent. Although, this needs to be assessed as a case by case basis.
For anyone who typically works with legal claims regarding health matters, informed consent is one of the most important things to consider. If a patient that you are working with has not given informed consent before a treatment or a procedure was performed, you might have a case. This is something that has been around in the UK since 2015 when the case law was set out.
Make sure to consider everything that we have discussed in this article and use this information to make the right decisions in the future.