'Consent' is a patient's agreement for a health professional to provide care. Patients may indicate consent nonverbally (for example by presenting their arm for their pulse to be taken), orally or in writing.
For consent to be valid, the patient must:
- be competent to make the particular decision
- have received sufficient information to make the decision
- not be acting under duress.
Practically, what is consent?
Consent is when a competent patient:
- makes it clear that they are able to understand what a procedure involves
- has been made aware of and been able to discuss the benefits and the risks of a procedure
- has received appropriate written information.
Thus, when taking consent, a patient must be able to understand the procedure, retain that information, make a decision based on that information and communicate that decision to the carer by signing the consent form (see Mental Capacity Act).
The four elements to providing consent are, therefore: