What You Need to Know About Informed Consent and Patient Rights
Have you ever wondered what informed consent means and why it’s important for your health care?
Have you ever felt confused or unsure about your rights as a patient?
In this article, I’ll explain what informed consent is and why it’s important.
I’ll also explain your rights as a patient, such as the right to information, autonomy, privacy, and participation.
By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll have a better understanding of informed consent and patient rights and how both affect you personally.
Informed consent is a process of communication between you and your health care provider that aims to ensure that you understand and agree to the proposed medical intervention, such as a test, treatment, or procedure.
Informed consent recognizes that you have the right to make your own decisions about your own health and well-being.
Informed consent is also a legal requirement in most countries, as it protects both you and your provider from potential harm or liability.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considered informed consent a human right, and developed guidelines for researchers regarding informed decision making. You can find it here.
WHY INFORMED CONSENT MATTERS
Informed consent is important for several reasons:
It respects your autonomy and dignity, allowing you to choose what’s best for you.
It promotes your well-being and safety, ensuring that you’re aware of the benefits, risks, alternatives, and uncertainties of the medical intervention.
It enhances your relationship with your provider by fostering trust, communication, and collaboration between you and your provider.
It supports your participation and empowerment by enabling you to ask questions, express preferences, and voice concerns.
It improves the quality and outcomes of health care by ensuring that you’re informed, satisfied, and compliant with the medical intervention.
COMPONENTS OF INFORMED CONSENT
Informed consent is based on four basic principles:
- Disclosure: Your provider must provide you with relevant and accurate information about the medical intervention, such as its
- alternatives, and
- Comprehension: Your provider must ensure that you understand the information provided, by
- using clear and simple language,
- avoiding jargon and technical terms, and
- checking for understanding and feedback
- Voluntariness: Your provider must respect your freedom and choice, by
- avoiding coercion,
- manipulation, or
- undue influence, and by
- honoring your right to refuse or withdraw consent at any time.
- Documentation: Your provider must record your consent in a written or electronic form, by using a standard consent form or a customized consent form, and by obtaining your signature or verbal agreement.
What are your rights as a patient?
You have various rights in health care, such as:
- The right to information: You have the right to receive complete and accurate information about your
- health condition,
- treatment options, and
- expected outcomes.
- The right to autonomy: You have the right to make your own decisions about your health care, based on your
- preferences, and
- The right to privacy: You have the right to protect your personal and medical information from
- unauthorized access,
- use, or
- The right to participation: You have the right to be involved in all aspects of your health care, such as
- evaluation, and
- The right to quality: You have the right to receive
- equitable, and
- patient-centered health care.
- The right to complaint: You have the right to express your dissatisfaction or grievance about your health care, and to receive a fair and prompt response or resolution.
Informed consent and patient rights are essential elements of ethical and legal health care.
They empower you to make informed and voluntary decisions about your health and well-being, and they protect you and your provider from potential harm or liability.
Informed consent **and **patient rights are also influenced by the use of artificial intelligence in health care, which poses new opportunities and challenges for health care providers and patients.
In future articles, we’ll explore how artificial intelligence affects informed consent and patient rights in different settings, such as clinical, hospital, research, and educational settings. Stay tuned!
The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment or legal advice.
Informed Consent and the Revised Common Rule, Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School
Informed Consent, AMA Code of Ethics
The Changing Face of Informed Consent, New England Journal of Medicine
Your Rights Under HIPAA, US Dept of Health and Human Services