Dimensions of informed consent to treatment

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2004 Jun;85(3):309-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2004.03.001.


Modern law approaches patients' consent to treatment not only through liability for unauthorized touching, namely criminal assault and/or civil (non-criminal) battery, but also through liability for negligence. Physicians must exercise appropriate skill in conducting procedures, and in providing patients with information material to the choices that patients have to make. The doctrine of informed consent serves the ethical goal of respecting patients' rights of self-determination. Information is initially pitched at the reasonable, prudent person in the patient's circumstances, and then fine-tuned to what is actually known about the particular patient's needs for information. Elements to be disclosed include the patient's prognosis if untreated, alternative treatment goals and options, the success rate of each option, and its known effects and material risks. Risks include medical risks, but also risks to general well-being such as economic and similar reasonable interests. Consent is a continuing process, not an event or signed form.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Informed Consent* / ethics
  • Informed Consent* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Truth Disclosure