What is Informed Consent?
Informed consent to treatment is based on the right of each person to determine what will be done to their own body. Informed consent guarantees each person the right to refuse treatment, to consent to treatment and to withdraw consent to treatment.
Consent may be either implied or expressed. Implied consent is usually ascertained by the actions of the patient, as with the patient who sits in your dental chair and opens their mouth. Express consent may be oral or written.
Informed consent is not an event or specific form. Rather it is an ongoing dialogue with your patient that begins at the first visit to the office and continues as treatment progresses.
Implied consent may be sufficient if the patient voluntarily comes to the dental office or a simple examinations or non-invasive procedures poses no risk of harm to the patient.
Expressed consent should be obtained when the procedure is beyond a simple examination or procedure.
Knowing when informed consent is necessary and obtaining it is an important part of every dental practice. The following are some guidelines to follow:
- Know when informed consent is necessary. Check your state laws or with your dental society. Most states allow patients age 18 and older to give their informed consent.
- Provide all basic information to the patient. Thoroughly explain your diagnosis, the nature, purpose and expected outcomes, risks and consequences, alternative treatments and prognosis.
- Elicit questions from patient to assure understanding. Address anything which you feel will lead to a misunderstanding. Give the patient a written list of all major risks of treatment. Never guarantee a result or safe outcome. With the patient’s permission, get a family member to participate. Although both oral consent and written consent are legally acceptable, oral consent should be confirmed in writing where risks are significant.
- Document the consent in the patient’s file. When written consent is necessary, try to use a form that is written at an 8th to 10th grade level. Give the patient a copy of the form.
- Always make sure that the patient has consented to the procedure or examination.
Insurance Innovations has partnered with an experience managing company to provide online quoting and applications for Dental Professional Liability Insurance to deliver quick and convenient service. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.