Informed Consent

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Consent in Healthcare

Consent is the permission to have something happen – it is an agreement to do something. In healthcare, valid consent is a legal and ethical principle that must be obtained from the patient before the commencement of an examination, treatment or physical examination. This requirement is a reflection of the rights of an individual to determine what happens to the bodies (Royal College of Nursing, 2017).

The Code of Practice for Nurses and Midwives

The code of practice for nurses and midwives requires them to act in the best interests of the patients at all times while respecting the patients right to either accept or deny himself treatment. The code also requires the nurses and midwives to acquire and document informed consent before carrying out any procedures (Nursing and Midwifery Council, n.d). Failure to respect this code may expose the nurses and midwives to be liable to legal action by the patient or even the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) or both.

Types of Consent

There are three types of consent; implied consent, verbal consent and written consent (Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, 2016). Implied consent is where the action or inaction of a patient indicates their desire to have a procedure be done on them. For example when a patient holds out their arm to have their blood pressure recorded. Verbal consent is where the patient by word of mouth clearly states their consent for an examination. Written consent is where a patient signs a declaration authorizing a procedure to be conducted on him or her. All these are forms of consent; however for consent to be valid, it must be informed. Informed consent is a consent by a patient after sufficient information about the procedure is provided to him or her. It is a legal requirement (Dorotheou, 2015). The nurse is required to provide to the patient a general explanation of risks inherent in either accepting or refusing a procedure. Also, information about alternatives to proposed procedure should be provided. A nurse that fails to meet this legal duty may be liable for negligence if the patient is subsequently harmed.


In conclusion, nurses and midwives are required by law to get the consent of the patient before attempting any procedure. The acquisition of consent serves two purposes, one clinical and the other one, legal (Richardson, 2013). Legally, consent provides the nurses and midwives with defense against legal actions and clinically, it ensures the cooperation of the patient in the performance of a procedure which goes a long way in improving the care provided to the patient.


Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation. ANMF Policy. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2018

Dorotheou, E. (2015, March 27). Case Comment: Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11. Retrieved from

Nursing and Midwifery Council. (2018). The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Retrieved from

Richardson, V. (2013). Patient Comprehension of Informed Consent. Journal of Perioperative Practice, 23(1-2), 26-30. doi:10.1177/1750458913023001-204

Royal College of Nursing. Principles Of Consent Guidance For Nursing Staff. London: Roya College of Nursing. 2017. Web.15.Mar.2018

October 13, 2023

Healthcare Nursing

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