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

Acoustic waves used to select high-quality sperm in IVF

A new approach which uses sound waves to filter sperm for IVF has been developed by Australian researchers.

The research team combined acoustic waves with fluid dynamics to sort high-quality sperm from semen samples, which they hope could eventually improve IVF success in patients. The method selects sperm cells on the basis of size, shape, and DNA integrity, rather than just motility.

Fertility Facts: What Do Young People Need to Know and When?

The most recent event held by the Progress Educational Trust, the charity which publishes BioNews, discussed the current state of fertility education for young people, an area largely overlooked in education and health systems. This meeting showcased the work that different groups have been doing to increase understanding of fertility and reproductive health, as well as awareness of what young people can do now to combat potential fertility issues in the future.

IVF Success: What Makes Scotland Special?

‘IVF Success: What Makes Scotland Special?’ – the most recent event organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET), the charity which publishes BioNews – highlighted the fantastic work that has been done in Scotland for those in need of fertility treatment.

Fertility takes up to eight months to return after stopping contraception

Women may have to wait up for up to eight months for their fertility to return to normal after stopping some forms of contraceptives, new research suggests.

Lessons from Lockdown: How to Improve Support for Fertility Patients

On the day England went into its second national lockdown the Progress Educational Trust (PET), the charity that publishes BioNews, held a timely online event: ‘Lessons from Lockdown: How to Improve Support for Fertility Patients’.

Draft guidance from watchdog cracks down on IVF clinics

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in February that it was looking into the fertility industry due to a lack of price transparency and misleading claims about success rates. It has worked closely with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to develop these guidelines, with input from the fertility sector, including patients, clinicians, and professional bodies.

Age-Old Question: Exploring Fertility and Ageing

‘Age and fertility – a topic that never gets old.’ So said Sarah Norcross – director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), the charity which publishes BioNews – excusing herself for the pun as she chaired the latest PET event ‘Age-Old Question: Exploring Fertility and Ageing’.

The Office of National Statistics still shows the age of conception for men and women is rising. What are the consequences, and what is the understanding of experts and the general public?

IVF: A Test Case – Whether, When and How Clinics Should Test Patients and Staff for COVID-19

‘IVF: A Test Case – Whether, When and How Clinics Should Test Patients and Staff for COVID-19’.

Appeared in BioNews 1058 3 August 2020

Known genes associated with male infertility doubled

Thirty-three genes associated with male infertility have been identified through a ‘genomics-first’ approach to understanding the condition.

Appeared in BioNews 1058 3 August 2020

HFEA publishes 2018 trends in fertility treatment

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has published its latest analysis on trends in fertility treatment, based on data from across the UK in 2018.