RCVS updates guidance on informed consent

For every treatment or procedure that we perform, it is imperative that consent for that treatment or procedure is gained. We all understand that – but – are we sure that the consent we gain is informed?

The RCVS have updated their guidance on chapter 11 of the Code of Professional Conduct in order to provide further advice to the professions on how consent should be discussed with clients to ensure informed consent is gained, and to offer clarification on who can gain consent for a procedure, as well as giving additional guidance on consent forms.

Informed consent is not always simple – there are many factors that need to be discussed, options offered, risks explained – and what about if a client does not have ‘capacity’, or the owner of the animal is not present? Whilst it is primarily the veterinary surgeon’s responsibility to gain informed consent, often this task is delegated to veterinary nurses, so it is important that nurses are also clear about the steps required to gain informed consent from clients.

The new RCVS guidance can be accessed here, and it is probably a very good idea to have a discussion on this topic with your team, so ensure you are all doing the same thing to gain consent from your clients.

There are also some case studies planned, which should be really helpful in walking through a few different scenarios that may be commonly encountered. As Nick Oldham, the RCVS Standards and Advisory Manager, said: “The RCVS Standards and Advice Team is also in the process of producing a series of fictional case studies based on informed consent issues encountered by the College’s Preliminary Investigation Committee which we hope will further help the profession.”

ONCORE’s Jill Macdonald has been working on The Veterinary Nurse-Client Communication Matrix project over the past  2 years, and a section on informed consent has already been drafted as part of the matrix, which will hopefully offer a useful adjunct to the RCVS guidance.

What do you think of this new guidance? Please feel free to comment below.

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