What Is Informed Consent?

What Is Informed Consent?

My son is having surgery in a few weeks. The nurses have given us pamphlets and educational materials to learn more about it, in preparation for something called "informed consent." What does this mean?
- Ned

Informed consent is a legal term. It means that you are fully aware of the facts of a certain situation (in this case, a surgical procedure) before agreeing to it. In order to obtain informed consent, your doctor will discuss certain things with you:

During the discussion, you will have a chance to ask questions. Asking questions is your right and responsibility — remember, there's no such thing as a silly question. You'll be asked to sign a written consent form before the surgery is performed. If you can't be there to sign the form, you'll be contacted by phone to give your consent.

In rare emergencies, a parent may not be available to give consent for a treatment or procedure for a young child — for example, in the case of an unconscious patient who comes into the emergency room. In these cases, doctors will operate using the principle of "presumed"or "implied"consent, using their professional judgment to do what is best for the child.

Reviewed by: Charles D. Vinocur, MD
Date reviewed: May 2012





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





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Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 464-5000
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican College of Surgeons The website of the American College of Surgeons provides consumer information about common surgeries such as appendectomy.
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