Why Is Informed Consent Important?
Informed consent is a person’s decision, given voluntarily, to agree to a healthcare treatment, procedure or other intervention that is made:
- Following the provision of accurate and relevant information about the healthcare intervention and alternative options available; and
- With adequate knowledge and understanding of the benefits and material risks of the proposed intervention relevant to the person who would be having the treatment, procedure or other intervention.
Ensuring informed consent is properly obtained is a legal, ethical and professional requirement on the part of all treating health professionals and supports person-centred care. Good clinical practice involves ensuring that informed consent is validly obtained and appropriately timed.
Informed consent is integral to the right to information in the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights, and recognised in Professional Codes of Conduct. Additionally, the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards require all hospitals and day procedures services to have informed consent processes that comply with legislation, lawful requirements and best practice.
For there to be valid informed consent, the person consenting must:
- Have the legal capacity to consent
- Give their consent voluntarily
- Give their consent to the specific treatment, procedure or other intervention being discussed
- Have enough information about their condition, treatment options, the benefits and risks relevant to them, and alternative options for them to make an informed decision to consent. This includes the opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns.
These paragraphs above have been extracted from “Fact Sheet for clinicians – Informed consent in health care” 1.
When you come into our clinic you will be given some forms to complete which will help the chiropractor to understand your circumstances and initiate a diagnosis and subsequently recommend a treatment plan. You will also be asked to complete an “Authorisation For And Consent to Treatment” form which outlines the benefits and risks associated with chiropractic care which will in turn allow you to give informed consent to any treatment offered. In addition, at the time of the consultation, your practitioner will outline a treatment plan and again explain all available options, highlighting all risks and benefits of the proposed treatment. If supplements are recommended in your treatments, your practitioner will also go through all of the risks and benefits with you, along with their recommended dosages.
As you can see, the fundamental principle of informed consent is that you are fully aware of all of the risks and benefits associated with your care plan and thereby you are in control of what is done to your body. We therefore encourage you to ask questions if you are in doubt, or do not understand what is being proposed by your chiropractor. Remember that is OK to say no, if you need more time to do further research, need to review the references that we can provide for your proposed treatment plan, or any other reason. We understand that everybody is different (in fact, unique!) and that perception of risk versus benefit is ultimately a personal decision.
Rest assured that all of our chiropractors pride themselves with treating your health care as their No.1 priority and will respect any request, or decision you make, with regard to what they have offered.