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What is informed consent?

Medical errors occur all the time in Indiana and across the country in healthcare settings. Many of these errors are preventable. Some of them are related to something called informed consent. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, informed consent is a matter of basic human rights and entitles a person to be informed about any health service that will performed or given to them before it occurs. The exception would be in a situation where you could not give consent due to a lack of conscious awareness. In that situation, your family would have to give consent or if they are not available and it is an emergency, consent can be waived.

To give informed consent, you must be told all the information you will need to make a clear decision. You must also indicate that you understand the information. It is the responsibility of the caregiver to ensure you understand completely what has been told to you. Finally, you have to voluntarily consent. You cannot be coerced or forced to consent.

Because informed consent relies heavily on communication, you should always be explained things in simple terms that you understand. If you have no medical background, then complex medical terms should not be used or should be explained to you so you can understand them if they must be used. You will usually sign a document that states you are giving your informed consent. By signing this, you are saying you completely understand the situation and agree to everything you have been told and give permission to the caregiver to proceed. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

 

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