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

IVF Education and Virtual Meetings

Inviting the IVF community to come together to get through this difficult time with education and collaboration.

HFEA letter to fertility patients regarding Covid-19

“23 March 2020

An open letter to fertility patients: 

Sally Cheshire CBE, Chair HFEA 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

As Chair of the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology), the regulator responsible for overseeing all UK fertility clinics, I wanted to write an open letter to all of you who are currently undergoing or were planning fertility treatment at this difficult time.

FILM: Frozen Fertility – The Challenges of Storing Eggs, Sperm and Embryos (Part 2)

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The film features a presentation by Dr Melanie Davies, chair of Fertility Preservation UK.

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The legislation surrounding gamete freezing is complicated and difficult to comprehend, even for people with law degrees. The Progress Educational Trust’s latest event ‘Frozen Fertility: The Challenges of Storing Eggs, Sperm and Embryos’, held at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, set out to explore the current state of play.

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This is the second in a series of films documenting the recent event ‘Does Fertility Treatment Still Need to Be a Medical Secret?’, produced by the Progress Educational Trust in partnership with the Scottish Government.

The film features a presentation by Gwenda Burns, chief executive of Fertility Network UK.

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What is a fertility doctor’s duty?

The subject of this year’s Progress Educational Trust annual conference, entitled ‘Reality Check’, was ‘a realistic look at assisted reproduction’. The choice of focus was motivated by ongoing controversy surrounding so-called ‘IVF add-ons’. These are defined by the HFEA as ‘optional extras that you may be offered on top of your normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost’.

Does fertility treatment still need to be a medical secret?

The latest meeting organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) asked the question ‘Does fertility treatment still need to be a medical secret?’ The event in Edinburgh last week, held in partnership with the Scottish Government, took place off the Royal Mile – through a narrow alleyway in Riddle’s Court, one of the many old and imposing buildings scattered throughout the city.

Cancer doctors hesitate to discuss fertility issues with young women

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