Consent for a medical procedure is an important part of patient care. It is common these days for people who are in need of healthcare to not necessarily be fluent in the language of the healthcare provider. How then can the patient give consent unless he or she understands the choices they have? The types of consent in healthcare must include informed consent for non-English speaking patients. This may take the form of human interpreters in a hospital or informed consent form translation which involves translation into the most common languages used by most non-English speaking patients.
Informed consent is a term used in healthcare which means that before a doctor or other health care professional treats a patient the patient understands what that treatment entails and gives their consent for it to take place.
Informed consent must be based on providing patients with clear easy to understand language so that a decision can be made by the patient.
Most English speaking healthcare facilities employ interpreters to help convey informed consent choices to patients. Obviously, there is a limit to the number of interpreters in any one institution and there are times when there is no interpreter available for a patient whose English is poor or non-existent or poor and whose native language is unusual. This often happens with refugees, for example.
The Types of Consent in Healthcare Include:
1. Written consent: this typically means reading and signing an informed consent form. Signing means you agree to whatever the medical procedure is such as surgery, which may have an element of risk. This will need an informed consent form translation whenever there is a need for informed consent for non-English speaking patients.
2. Verbal consent: this is when there is less risk and you give your consent orally. An interpreter can ensure that the basis for consent is understood.
3. Implied consent: this is consent that is given by action or attitude rather than verbally or signing a form. It might, for instance, be implied that you consent to a procedure because you cooperate with the doctor or surgeon.
What is Consent in Healthcare?
An informed consent definition in healthcare is “consent for a medical procedure or treatment that is accompanied by information that sets out the rationale clearly.”
Consent is needed before many procedures or healthcare treatments because patients have the right to agree or disagree to them proceeding when they may have an element of risk. Consent cannot be considered reliable unless the patient understands the benefits and drawbacks of the procedure or treatment. This is what is termed informed consent.
The Elements of Informed Consent for Medical Procedures Include
● Knowing when there is a need for an interpreter, informed consent translation or communicator in sign language (or deaf/dumb patients).
● Whether an interpreter has to be booked in advance.
● Whether cultural considerations are involved and may affect the person’s right to informed consent.
Healthcare professionals who need to obtain consent at some point should be trained to understand when there could be a problem in communicating the elements of informed consent for medical procedures.
Some of the Clues are:
● The patient simply agrees with everything or nods.
● The patient seems agitated or under stress.
● The patient cannot converse in English.
● The patient is known to come from a background where English is not spoken.
● The patient has only been in the country for a relatively short time.
● The patient asks for an interpreter.
● The patient only reads books or magazines in a language other than English.
Why Informed Consent is Important
People who have had no experience of the medical world may wonder why informed consent is so important. Permission must be first sought from a patient if there is going to be any new test, medical examination or treatment. It is accepted that it is their right to agree or refuse. In many instances, there will be no problem with consent being obtained, but in some cases, the patient might not understand why a certain proposed procedure or treatment is important for their well-being. This is why informed consent is so important.
It is important that the explanation for the procedure or treatment is given by a physician who understands the medical background of the patient, as well as the potential risks inherent in the procedure or treatment. It is usual for consent to be obtained when there is an element of risk, however slight.
It is an important point to be emphasized for those who want to know why consent is so important in healthcare that it must be obtained as a result of a genuine voluntary decision by the patient that has been obtained without any form of persuasion or coercion from health care professionals.
In conclusion, for those who still question why consent is so important in health care, informed consent is regarded as a basic human right.