Informed Consent

Patients, their caregivers, and health care providers are partners in health care decisions. When you seek medical care, you usually get recommendations about needed treatment. Most people follow these recommendations, but some choose not to follow them. You do have the right to either accept or refuse a treatment. If you are an adult and you’re able to make your own decisions, you are the only person who can choose whether to get treatment and which treatment to get. This is done through a process called informed consent.

All medical care requires consent (agreement) by the patient (or someone who is authorized to consent for the patient) before care is given. This includes treatments for illnesses such as cancer. In some cases, you approve or agree with the doctor’s plan by simply getting a prescription filled, signing a form that allows blood to be drawn for lab tests, or saying yes to seeing a specialist. This is called simple consent, and is OK for treatments that carry little risk for you. Many times, though, the more careful process of informed consent is needed.