What is informed consent?

Informed consent is an important principle which dictates that an individual must give permission or consent before undergoing any medical treatment, procedure or examination.

From a medical perspective, the clinic or doctor must give a clear explanation what the treatment involves, including any potential risks, before treatment can commence.

These principles of consent form a crucial part of medical ethics and international human rights law.

Principles of Informed Consent

Acquiring informed consent is an ethical and legal obligation upon every clinic before a patient can be treated. Patient consent cannot be considered valid unless it is “informed consent”. As such, the following criteria must be met:

  • Consent is given voluntarily, without any deceit or deliberate coercion
  • Consent is given by the patient or the patient’s representative who has the capacity to do so
  • Consent is given by the patient or the patient’s representative who has been made fully aware of the procedure, potential issues or different treatment options

Consent can either be written, verbal or implied/non-verbal. A written consent might be given by signing a consent form prior to a surgical procedure. And, a non-verbal consent may be in the form of an acknowledgement from the patient; that they understand what treatment or procedure they are about to undergo, such as willingly extending their arm for a blood test.

Importantly a written consent form is not necessarily the actual informed consent, but rather proof that your consent was given, even if you were not informed.

This is a very crucial distinction. Throughout the informed consent process you will be presented with medical and legal consent forms which usually have various sections highlighting the important elements that you need to be aware of, and which you need to acknowledge.

Fertility News

Sperm donors should waive anonymity, fertility regulator says

Egg and sperm donors should consider waiving their anonymity because it can no longer be guaranteed, according to the UK fertility regulator.

Donor-conceived children have been increasingly finding their biological parents through home DNA testing kits.

Fertility information: Giving young cancer patients the chance to have children

Young people with cancer are potentially being robbed of the ability to have children as important information around fertility is not being communicated at the earliest opportunity says the cancer charity, Teenage Cancer Trust

Forgeries of Happiness: Dishonesty and Deceit in IVF

Happily fraud, dishonesty and forgery are seldom features of IVF treatment.

But on rare occasions (and for widely differing reasons), some patients are not wholly transparent or honest in their engagement with clinics.

Podcast Review: Global infertility – Could The Handmaid’s Tale become reality?

The BBC’s World Service weekly podcast series, CrowdScience, invites listeners to pose questions about life, Earth and the universe. To find answers, they interview experts at the frontiers of knowledge.
Appeared in BioNews 1014, 9 September 2019

Patients are switching GP practices to ‘get around’ rationing of services like IVF

Patients are switching GP practices to get around the cruel rationing of NHS treatments such as IVF, claims health minister. Jackie Doyle-Price said disparity in health services in the UK was ‘unacceptable’.
She claims patients are signing up with surgeries far from home to access IVF. CCGs should offer three rounds of IVF to under 40s, but rarely do, figures show.
By Vanessa Chalmers Health Reporter For Mailonline

Podcast review: Egg freezing, fertility and IVF

The Sista Collective is the ‘BBC’s first homegrown podcast led and hosted by black British women’. This podcast was created by Jessie Aru-Phillips who is a journalist for BBC Radio 5 Live with hopes of exploring what it means to be a woman of colour living in the UK today.
Appeared in BioNews 1007, 22 July 2019

Is the UK fertility sector facing a tipping point?

Rarely a day goes by without the UK media mentioning assisted reproduction and the fertility sector. Whether it’s the latest research innovation, the growth in DNA testing and matching websites, the funding and commissioning of fertility services or reports of patients confused as to whether they should pay for expensive and unproven add-on treatments. Most of the headlines aren’t positive for the fertility sector or those who undergo treatment.

ICSI no better than IVF for routine infertility cases

Reporting from the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology’s 2019 annual meeting in Vienna

The increasingly popular technique ICSI has no advantages over IVF in treating cases not related to male infertility, according to a new study.
A second study suggests that ICSI may not even have benefits over IVF more generally, when it comes to the birth of babies resulting from treatment.

By Shaoni Bhattacharya

Men have a biological clock too – so why is women’s fertility still such big, often unregulated, business?

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman over the age of 25 is likely to be reminded of her ticking biological clock by friends, relatives and strangers, every year, until the year in which she conceives.

Marijuana could affect fertility in women AND men, researchers warn

Marijuana could affect fertility in women AND men: Researchers warn the drug affects sperm count, ovulation and odds of conceiving.
THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for the ‘high’ feeling associated with marijuana, acts on receptors in the reproductive organs of men and women.