Consent is not just a one-off

In the second part of our series on the GMC’s new guidance on ‘Decision-making and consent’, Dr Kathryn Leask continues to discuss factors of particular importance for private practitioners.

The scope of decisions and planning ahead

It is important to be clear with patients about the scope of their decision in advance. 

This is particularly where treatment is to be provided in stages by different healthcare professionals or there may be different ways to proceed once treatment has begun – such as where the patient is having surgery under general anaesthetic. 

You must not exceed this, except in emergencies (paragraph 31). 

You should try to anticipate circumstances when the patient will find decision-making more difficult and discuss these in advance to avoid a time-pressured situation where the patient could find it difficult to give informed consent (paragraphs 32, 33 and 39). 

This section echoes and references the GMC’s existing guidance on advance care planning in its guidance on Treatment and care towards the end of life: good practice in decision-making.   

Involving other members of the healthcare team