Informed Consent

What is Informed Consent?

Consent is an agreement between you and your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will ask you to give your consent before you have any test, treatment or procedure they are recommending for you. The only exception is in an emergency or situation to save your life.

Shared decision making for consent is when you work together with your doctor or healthcare provider to decide whether to have or not have, a test, treatment or procedure that is being recommended for you. Information about healthcare tests, treatments and procedures can be complicated, and you may want to involve a support person – like a family member, carer or friend. You can use these 5 questions as a guide in your discussion with your doctor.

Older adults are particularly vulnerable in the consent and shared decision-making process. They may be frail, more likely to suffer from impaired cognition and / or hearing. These factors can make communication a challenge, even if cognition is intact, but not impossible. As a consumer you can use several strategies to make it easier to communicate with your health care provider:

  • Tell the health care provider if you would like your family or carer involved.
  • Check back with your health care provider if there is something you didn’t understand or need repeated.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask for an interpreter if you do not speak English well or are Deaf.
  • Tell the doctor if you have an Advance Care Directive in place.

Read or download the ISLHD Informed Consent brochure.

Support people

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Shared decision making is when you work together with your healthcare provider to discuss and make decisions about your own treatment and care. You can also choose to involve a family member, carer or close friend to join the conversation. A support person can help you to make your decision and remember information.

It is important that you freely give your consent. This means that your doctor or other healthcare provider, or your family, carer or friend should not pressure or force you to make a healthcare decision.

If you speak a language other than English, or you are Deaf, you can ask your healthcare provider to arrange an interpreter. This is a free and confidential service.

Some people will have a substitute decision maker. You have a right to have a substitute decision-maker make medical decisions for you if you’re not able to make these decisions yourself.

If you are a substitute decision maker – for example a Guardian, the healthcare provider must involve you in discussions and decisions about the care of the person you can make decisions for.

Ask questions

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Information about healthcare tests, treatments and procedures can be complicated. You can ask questions at any time, and ask for information to be repeated or written down. It is a good idea to think about the questions to ask your healthcare provider before your appointment. 

It can be helpful to have written information about a test, treatment or procedure that is being recommended for you. Written information – such as in pamphlets or the information on-line at trusted websites, can help you to remember information and explain it to your family and friends. Ask your healthcare provider if there is any written information available in your language that you can take home, or about any trusted websites that you can use.

5 Questions 

Choosing Wisely Australia has developed ‘5 Questions to ask your doctor or health care provider before you get any test, treatment or procedure’. The questions are: 

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
  2. What are the risks?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. What happens if I don't do anything?
  5. What are the costs?

You can read more about the 5 Questions on the Choosing Wisely website, or view them in a number of different languages. 

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