Informed Consent – Everything You Need to Know

Informed consent surgery 1 - Informed Consent – Everything You Need to Know 1

Informed Consent – Everything You Need to Know

What is informed consent in healthcare?

Quite simply, informed consent is your understanding and agreement of the procedure or treatment you will be undergoing. Your healthcare provider is responsible for effectively communicating with you about your condition and your surgical and treatment options. They must – legally and ethically – obtain your informed consent before proceeding with any option.

Why is informed consent important?

Consent codes and laws in Australia protect both caregivers and care receivers. They also help establish trust in your caregiver while respecting your autonomy as a care seeker.

The process of gaining informed consent will help to prevent misunderstandings and lapses in communication that could lead to you being unhappy with the care that you receive. The process makes sure that you understand what to expect and the risks of the procedure, including the chances of less-than-optimal outcomes.

How does VPS obtain your valid informed consent?

Holistic Informed consent is achieved through a process of communication, discussion, and shared decision making. It involves understanding:

  • your goals and concerns,
  • discussing the options for treatment,
  • the potential outcomes (positive, negative and neutral),
  • risks and benefits and what this might mean for you.

You will make an informed decision based on this information.

Surgery is a significant undertaking and as such, Valley Plastic Surgery requires your informed consent to be documented in writing by way of a signed consent form(s).

What documents will you need to sign to provide informed consent?

Depending on whether your procedure is undertaken in rooms at Valley Plastic Surgery or at the hospital, we will require you understand, sign and return different consent forms prior to your procedure.

These may include:

  • The Procedure: The surgeon performing the surgery must provide you with enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not to have the surgery. In addition to information about their qualifications, you should also be given information about what the surgery involves, the risks and possible complications.
  • Hospital Consent: This form will allow you to provide your consent or directives for situations that may arise during the surgical procedure itself, such as blood transfusions (if required) or any procedure changes that become necessary during the surgery as a result of complications.
  • Informed Financial Consent: Knowing how much your treatment will cost is called Informed Financial Consent and a breakdown of the expected costs associated with your procedure will be provided and acknowledged in writing prior to your procedure or treatment so you are aware of what the likely out-of-pocket expenses may be. By signing the Informed Financial Consent, you are agreeing to the payment of all those costs as outlined.

Signing and returning the documents:

It is vital that you read the ENTIRE document carefully, and sign, tick or notate where indicated and return ALL pages of the consent forms.

If you do not have a printer or scanner to copy and email the documents, you may ask the team at VPS to help you, or we can recommend using a program such as Apple Notes to scan and create a PDF document that you can send to us. The guide for this can be found HERE:

If you are having trouble making a decision

Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether or not to undergo a particular medical procedure. It is important to remember that it is okay to ask more questions and/or seek a second opinion. If you are having trouble making a decision, you could:

  • Make a further appointment with the surgeon or VPS clinic nurse to discuss your concerns and get more information.
  • Ask the surgeon to explain the information to you again in a way you can understand, and if you do not fully understand the information the surgeon gives, say so.
  • Consult another specialist to get a second opinion.
  • Speak with your GP or regular healthcare provider to discuss the options.
  • Find a support group and talk to someone who has had the treatment or procedure. It can help to learn from other peoples’ experiences.
  • Ask the surgeon for information in another language or ask for a professional interpreter if you prefer another language to English.

Consent may be required at different stages and can be withheld or withdrawn:

The need to obtain informed consent may be required at different stages over the course of a treatment pathway, including prior to giving treatment or undertaking a medical examination. 

The final decision is always with the person receiving medical treatment or their authorised agent. They have the legal right to refuse consent or withdraw consent for any proposed treatment.

Various codes and requirement:

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. 
Informed financial consent is an important but separate consent process. Consumers required to pay directly for health services should be consented before receiving care.