How do you know if you have gained informed consent?

Mar 30, 2022

Therapists are aware that they need to gain consent for treatment from their patients.

But how do you get consent?

Do you…

  1. Ask them to sign a form when they first attend?
  2. Ask them at the beginning of the treatment session if they consent?
  3. Assume they have mental capacity?
  1. Ask them to sign a form when they first attend.

This is meaningless and would not stand up in a court of law.

What are they signing for?

Implied consent by turning up at your clinic is not consent.

All they can consent for at this stage is to pay their invoice and for you to hold their personal data.

Gaining informed consent starts before they even arrive at the clinic.

Consider sending them a patient information leaflet at the time of the booking.

This informs them that they may need to undress, that they have the right to ask questions and that they can refuse treatment at any stage.

They also have the right to a chaperone.

Do they need the services of an interpreter?

Do they have any communication needs?

Patients do not have to sign anything to show that you have gained informed consent.

The only time you need written consent from the patient is for acupuncture, injection therapy, dry needling and performing nerve conduction studies.

  1. Ask them at the beginning of the treatment session if they consent.

Touching a person without consent may be a civil offence of battery.

When you ask them if they consent you must have provided the patient with any information they ask for.

This can cover risks, benefits, side effects and complications.

This list is not exhaustive.

Always remember never to take a patient by surprise as doing so could mean they have not consented to what has just happened.

You must also allow them time to reflect and consider before going ahead.

For example, providing acupuncture at their next session so they have had time to read the leaflet, ask questions and reflect.

Patients have a right to refuse treatment.

  1. Assume they have mental capacity

Informed consent must meet three tests.

  1. The capacity to give consent.
  2. Consent must be given voluntarily.
  3. They patient must be given all the information they ask for to make that decision (Montgomery 2015).

Does the person: –

  • Understand the information.
  • Can they retain the information?
  • Can they use/assess the information to make an informed decision?
  • Can they communicate the decision by any means necessary?

Things to check you have in your practice…

  • An informed consent policy.
  • Written consent form (in line with NHS Consent Form 3).
  • Patient information leaflet.

If you need any help writing any of these, or would like more information around gaining informed consent visit our store and choose…

  • Template pack for Informed Consent Policy.
  • Patient Information Leaflet.
  • Monday Musings April (Fourth Monday of the Month) Informed Consent for Adults.
  • Wednesday Wonderings April (Second Wednesday of the Month) Informed Consent Adults.

We are here to help you ensure that your consent really is informed.

To stay up to date with HCPC compliance click here.