Informed consent in paramedic practice

Matthew Gaisford
February 2017

Informed consent is a concept that has grown in importance over the last 40 years. It is now a key concept in modern healthcare practice and underpins all patient encounters. Any consent to assessment or treatment should be gained in an informed manner and failing to do so can lead the clinician open to accusations of negligence. Despite this many clinicians have only a vague or incorrect understanding of the concept of informed consent and what does, and does not, constitute it. The following article attempts to clarify the latest thinking in English law regarding informed consent drawing largely from the United Kingdom Supreme Court (UKSC) ruling on the subject in 2015. There then follows a discussion of a number of areas where paramedic practice in particular may be failing to meet modern standards of informed consent. It will be argued that consent in paramedic practice is often poorly sought and documented and that paramedic practice often becomes ‘defensive’ and in doing so fails to meet the required standards for informed consent.

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