Informed consent is a person’s decision, given voluntarily, to agree to a healthcare treatment, procedure or other intervention that is made: 

  • Following the provision of accurate and relevant information about the healthcare intervention and alternative options available; and 
  • With adequate knowledge and understanding of the  benefits and material risks of the proposed intervention relevant to the person who would be having the treatment, procedure or other intervention. 

Ensuring informed consent is properly obtained is a legal, ethical and professional requirement on the part of all treating health professionals and support person-centered care. Good clinical practice involves ensuring that informed consent is validly obtained and appropriately timed. 

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. 

At Tego, we strongly encourage our medical practitioners and medical practices to stay up to date with the latest guidelines and procedures around informed consent. 

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Key Principles for Informed Consent 

Other than in exceptional circumstances, adults have the right to determine what will be done to their bodies and what healthcare treatments and interventions they will undergo.

Where a person lacks legal capacity, the framework for obtaining substitute consent that applies in each state or territory must be used to obtain consent to treatment. 

Any healthcare treatment, procedure or other intervention undertaken without consent is unlawful unless legislation in a state or territory, or case law, permits the treatment, procedure or other intervention  without consent. For example; treatment provided in an emergency, or for certain mental health interventions.

The Bottom Line  

  • Healthcare providers and medical practitioners have a duty to warn about the material risks of the treatment, procedure or other intervention as part of obtaining a person’s consent.  
  • Failure to adequately warn a person of these risks is a breach of the healthcare provider’s duty of care. 
  • A person has the right to refuse treatment (with some legislated exceptions) or withdraw consent previously given prior to treatment. 
  • It is important to contemporaneously document consent discussions and include written consent forms (where appropriate) in the person’s healthcare record. 
  • Any healthcare treatment, not just operations and other procedures, requires valid consent either verbally, written, or implied. This includes prescribing drugs and other therapeutic substances. 

Tego Protects You and Your Practice

As medical indemnity insurance providers in Australia, we will cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance, medical malpractice insurance, doctors indemnity insurance, medical practice insurance, GP medical indemnity insurance, and more. If you are a medical practitioner with Tego, your medical indemnity insurance comes with 24/7 medico-legal advice and support to guide you through Informed Consent Issues.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information.