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 get your informed consent, the doctor will discuss certain things
with you, such as:
your child's diagnosis
details about the procedure or treatment, and why it is being recommended
the risks and benefits involved
any possible alternative treatments
the risks and benefits of any alternatives
the risks and benefits of NOT undergoing the treatment or procedure
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
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.