You have the right to determine what is done to your body.

Medical and other practitioners must get patient (or guardian) consent before attending to a patient. Consent needs to be freely given by a mentally competent, informed person.

Granting of consent by the patient can be verbal, but for medical and surgical procedures, operations and some treatments, consent needs to be documented on a Consent Form.

Man signing document

What you should expect

The information you should expect to receive about any procedure or treatment when consent is sought includes:

  • A description of the procedure or treatment to be provided
  • The likely effect on your ability to function normally after the operation or procedure
  • How long you might be in hospital after the operation or procedure
  • Any risks and possible side effects
  • Why the treatment is recommended and any possible alternatives
  • Whether the doctor obtaining consent will be the treating doctor
  • The level of training of the doctor involved in the treatment

What you should do

You should ask questions to make sure you have been given all the information you need to freely give your consent. If you require an interpreter to assist in your understanding, you should ask for one to be present.

You can prepare an ‘Advance Directive’ at any time before or during your hospital stay to help doctors and nurses give you the sort of treatment you want in the event you are too sick to tell staff after the operation or procedure.

There are two types of Advance Directives:

  • A Refusal of Treatment - any person capable of making an informed decision about their medical care has a right to refuse a particular medical treatment based on an understanding of what that treatment involves, the consequences of not having it and alternatives that may be available. The doctor providing this information will co-sign an RMH Refusal of Treatment form with the patient.
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) - enables you to appoint someone else (often a family member) to make decisions about your treatment if you cannot make these decisions yourself due to serious illness.

These forms may be obtained from most newsagents, Post Offices or from the Office of the Public Advocate.

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Last updated 20 December 2022