What is informed consent

consentimiento informado

Informed consent is a fundamental concept in ethics and in the medical and legal fields that refers to the voluntary and conscious authorization that a person gives after having received complete and understandable information about the possible risks, benefits and alternatives related to a medical treatment, procedure, participation in a clinical study or other type of intervention. In other words, it implies that a person must fully understand what is going to be done to him or her, the possible consequences, and the options available before giving consent to proceed.

In Colombia, Law 23 of 1981, known as the Medical Ethics Law, enshrines the general principle that no physician shall intervene clinically or surgically on a patient without obtaining the patient’s prior authorization.

It is important to mention that informed consent can only be given by adults who are capable of making medical decisions for themselves, so in the case of children or others who cannot make their own medical decisions, a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for making decisions on their behalf can give informed consent.

Informed consent is applied in a number of areas, primarily

Medical: Before a physician performs a medical procedure or treatment on a patient, the patient must give informed consent. This is essential to ensure that the patient understands what is going to be done and can make an informed decision about their medical care.

Clinical Research: in clinical studies and clinical trials, participants must give informed consent before joining the study. This ensures that they are provided with all relevant information about the study and can decide whether they wish to participate based on that information.

Patient’s rights: informed consent is also related to respect for the patient’s rights and autonomy. It ensures that patients have the right to make decisions about their own health care and are informed about available options.

The importance of informed consent lies in several aspects

Respect for Autonomy: allows people to make informed decisions in accordance with their individual values and preferences.

Patient Protection: Ensures that patients understand the risks and benefits of medical interventions and can avoid situations where they might be subjected to unwanted treatments.

Medical Ethics: Informed consent is a fundamental ethical principle in the physician-patient relationship. Ensures that physicians respect patients’ autonomy and dignity.

Prevention of Legal Disputes: Helps prevent legal disputes and litigation by ensuring that the parties involved have been adequately informed and have given their voluntary consent.

In summary, informed consent is essential to ensure that decisions related to medical care, research and other interventions are made in an informed and voluntary manner, respecting the rights and autonomy of individuals.