It is always hoped that doctors talk to us about the risks and complications as well as the benefits of any surgery we are about to undertake. Sadly, providing sufficient information to enable a patient to fully consent to a procedure is still an area that doctors fail in their duty.
Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and Consent
Doctors are getting patient consent wrong and to that end the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has published new guidance on patient consent. Consent: Supported Decision-Making – A Guide to Good Practice has been developed in response to the UK Supreme Court decision in Montgomery –v- Lanarkshire Health Board .
Some say that this case reshaped the law in relation to informed consent but in truth it was the courts catching up with the professional guidance that the GMC already had in place since 2008. The courts have in effect caught up with what doctors should have been doing since 2008.
The new guidance applies to elective treatment as opposed to emergency situations. This means that cosmetic surgery doctors have a duty to implement the new guidance as much as NHS doctors. The key aspects of the guidance include:
- Not making assumptions regarding the wishes of patients. Even if there is a perceived ‘best treatment option’ the materiality of any risks of treatment, even where the risk is small, must be communicated.
- Each patient’s wishes and views must be respected, including their right to withhold consent to treatment, even if this is potentially dangerous or fatal.
- Where possible, providing written information regarding diagnosis and treatment options, either in the form of booklets or details of websites. A copy of that information should be included in the patient’s notes along with the consent form.
- Ensuring the surgeon discussing the treatment with the patient is suitability trained and qualified and has sufficient knowledge of the associated risks and benefits. It is the surgeon’s responsibility to ensure informed consent has been obtained before they start treatment.
- Ensuring patients have been given enough time to make informed decisions.
- Ensuring a signed consent form is on file prior to treatment commencing and as soon as a decision has been made. Where possible, patients should be provided with a copy of the consent form to take away with them, allowing time for reflection and potential questions to be raised.
- In addition to the consent form, maintaining written decision-making documents that contain contemporaneous records of the consent discussions. This could be in the form of a letter to the patient’s GP, a copy of which should also be sent to the patient.
Medical Negligence and Patient Consent
Many of our cases for medical negligence centre around patient consent. Negligence stems from failure to be informed about the material risks and complications of a procedure. In some cases, you may feel that you would rather cope with the health problems as they are rather than have a treatment which could make matters worse.
Only with good accurate information can patient consent be informed.
If you feel that you were made worse by treatment and not warned about the risks and complications of the treatment then get in touch with Dr Handley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call freephone 0800 470 2009
It costs nothing to find out if you have a valid claim.