The need for consent arises from the obligation to respect a person's autonomy and right to self-determinations; failure to obtain it can have serious consequences. Treatment without consent is usually unlawful and can result in a legal claim and a complaint of misconduct to the GDC. Significant awards for damages and increased insurance premiums may result.
Only a person who is competent to do so can give consent. In being competent, the patient must be able to understand and retain information that is relevant to their treatment, use the information to make a choice and communicate their decision. If the patient is under 16 but sufficiently mature to understand the treatment proposed, they may be competent to give consent but you must ensure that the Fraser guidelines have been met.
You must also make sure that the patient understands the risks involved with their treatment and of any consequences that commonly occur.
Key learning points
This advice will help you to meet your requirements for obtaining consent from your patients prior to providing their care and treatment. It will help you to:
- Understand the purpose of consent and need for obtaining informed consent before providing dental treatment
- In addition to informed consent. The other types of consent and when each might be used
- Assess a patient’s ability to give consent and how to manage a situation when a patient does not have capacity to consent.
The valid consent of the patient is usually obtained without any difficulty and the process can be reviewed at a later date if the conversation between the dentist and the patient is clearly documented in the patient’s record.