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About the consent form for treatment

Find out more about what you should know and what questions to ask about your consent to treatment.

About the consent form

Before a doctor or other health professional examines or treats you, they need your consent. Sometimes you can tell them whether you agree with their suggestions. However, often a written record of your decision can be helpful, for example if your treatment involves sedation or general anaesthesia.

We’ll then ask you to sign a consent form. If you later change your mind, you can withdraw consent even after signing.

What should I know before deciding?

Health professionals must ensure you understand enough so that you can  decide about treatment. They’ll write information on the consent form and offer you a copy to keep as well as discussing the choices of treatment with you. Although they may recommend a particular option, you can choose another. People’s attitudes vary on things like the amount of risk or pain they’re prepared to accept.

That goes for the amount of information too. If you’d rather not know about certain aspects of your treatment, discuss your concerns with whoever is treating you.

Should I ask questions?

Yes. Ask anything you want. The person you ask should do their best to answer, but if they don’t know they should find someone else who does. To support you and prompt questions, you might like to bring a friend or relative.

Please let us know if you’d like someone independent to speak up for you.

Is there anything I should tell people?

If there’s a procedure that you do not want to happen, tell the people treating you.

It’s also important for them to know about any illnesses or allergies which you may currently have or have had in the past.

What about anaesthesia?

If your treatment involves general or regional anaesthesia, we’ll tell you about it in advance. You’ll also have an opportunity to talk with the anaesthetist when they assesses your state of health shortly before treatment.

Hospitals sometimes have pre-assessment clinics which give patients opportunities to discuss things a few weeks earlier.

Will you take samples?

Some operations involve removing a part of the body (such as a gall bladder or a tooth). We’ll always tell you about this in advance.

Other operations may involve taking samples as part of your care which we’ll tell you about in advance. These may be blood samples or small sections of tissue, for example, of an unexplained lump.  A healthcare professional will check these samples to ensure the best possible diagnosis and outcome.

What about clinical photographs and videos?

As part or your treatment, we may need to take x-rays, clinical photographs, or sometimes a video. We’ll always tell you if this will happen.

We keep any photographs, x-rays or recordings with your notes in confidence as part of your medical record. This means that only those people involved with your care, or those who need to check the quality of care your receive will see them.

The use of photographs and recordings is also extremely important for other NHS work, such as teaching or medical research. However, we will not use yours in a way that might allow you to be identified or recognised without your permission.

What if things don’t go as expected?

Amongst the 25,000 operations that take place in the UK every day, sometimes things do not go as they should. Although the doctor involved should inform you and your family, often the patient will be the first to notice that something is not right.

If you’re worried for example about the after effects of an operation, tell a health professional immediately.

Speak to your GP, or contact your clinic. You’ll find the phone number on your appointment card, letter or copy of your treatment consent form.

What are the key things to remember?

It’s your decision. It’s up to you to chose whether or not to consent to your proposed treatment. Ask as many questions as you like, and remember to tell the team about anything that concerns you, your medication, allergies or past history which might affect your general health.