Now patients also enjoy a right to participate in the decision making process as to the nature of his treatment with the doctor. Consent of the patient is required as to the nature of his treatment not only in critical life or death situations but also in clinic and outpatient facilities. In this connection, only ‘informed consent’ will suffice instead of mere consent.
Consent is informed when the patient has already been made aware of the implications and consequences of the proposed medical treatment on him.
Though state laws on informed consent vary yet the current trend is in favor of increasing disclosure and transparency.
A health care provider must give the following information to the patient to enable him give informed consent on his treatment: -
Nature of the treatment proposed
Associated risks and hazards including those of bodily harm and death
Chances of success
Consequences if the treatment is not undergone
Post treatment complications
Estimated time for recovery
However, in emergency situations when immediate treatment is called for to save a Patent’s life or in cases of minor risks, the doctor may at his discretion dispense with the requirement of full disclosure.
There are patients who may request not to be informed of the specific risks and sign a memorandum of waiver of informed consent.
By and under the living will of the concerned patient, the doctor might be required to disclose specific information concerning the patient or his treatment to the designated alternate decision maker nominated by the patient.
Sometimes doctors get blanket consent forms signed by the patients virtually including everything, which a doctor might do to a patient without specifying anything in particular. Such blanket consent forms obtained from the patients are not taken kindly by the courts and are likely to be construed against the doctor or hospital authorities.