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About Informed Consent

Myth and Facts About Informed Consent

Informed consent is designed primarily to protect the legal interests of the therapist.

The purpose of the process is to protect you and other consumers by providing access to knowledge that can help you make an informed choice. It also is designed to make you aware of your rights as a consumer.

The most important part of this process is signing the informed consent document.

Actually, the heart of this process is your ongoing interaction and discussions with the therapist before, during, and after treatment. The document is designed to get this conversation started.

My therapist knows best; he or she can tell me whether or not I should consent to treatment.

The therapist is likely to be a valuable source of advice and information, but only you can make this decision. No one not even medical experts can predict whether a treatment, screening, prevention, or supportive care method will prove successful. The informed consent process is designed to help you weigh all of the information and make the right choice for you or your child.

Myth: Once I sign the consent form, I have to stay in treatment with this therapist.

Reality: That’s not true. Even after you sign the form, you are free to change your mind and decide not to participate in treatment. You also have the right to discontinue treatment at any time for any reason, without forfeiting access to other treatment.

The myth and fact information above was adapted from a web page on NIH regarding informed consent in cancer trials.

What Is Informed Consent?

Informed consent is a legal doctrine that has been developed by the courts over a number of years. The doctrine of informed consent may have been derived from the Nuremberg Code (1947), which required that doctors obtain the voluntary informed consent of the subject prior to conducting research, and/or treatment. The Informed Consent Doctrine requires that doctors or therapists provide a consumer with all relevant information about a proposed procedure or treatment prior to obtaining the consent of the consumer to carry out the procedure or treatment. Four items of information that must be provided are:

  1. the nature of the treatment or procedure
  2. the risks
  3. the benefits
  4. the alternatives

Informed consent protects consumers by providing him/her with complete information on which to make an informed decision. Informed consent usually also protects the doctor/therapist from liability (with exceptions) provided that the treatment is properly dispensed according to the prevailing standard of care and without negligence. The adult consumer’s power to consent is very broad. Inadequate provision of information, however, may invalidate the consent.

The above definition was adapted from a web site on circumcision.

Disclaimer:   I am not a health care professional. I am an abuse survivor. The resources on this site are for information and education only. Information on this website is meant to support not replace the advice of a licensed health care or mental health care professional. Please consult your own physician for health care advice.

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last revised: 12/18/04