As a patient, it is up to you to decide whether an examination or treatment should go ahead – even if only one course of treatment is available. If there are any changes to your treatment, or if new information becomes available, you are entitled to receive updated information. Once again, you must give your consent for the treatment to be continued or changed. You may withdraw your consent at any time. However, in case of an immediate life-threatening need for treatment, a doctor or another health professional may examine and treat you without your prior consent – for instance if you are unconscious and therefore unable to give your consent.
Consent to treatment of children
As parents, you are given the option, in consultation with staff, to decide which treatment is best for your child. Almost any type of treatment and examination is put to you as a proposition, and your decision should be based on information and dialogue. Therefore, you are encouraged to ask questions regarding the consequences of the treatment as well as anything you are not sure about.
Consent by young people
If you are aged between 15 and 18, you have the right to make your own decisions, and you must give your own consent. However, your parents must also be involved in your decision. If you are unable to understand the full consequences of your decision, the person who is your custodial parent must decide on your behalf. It is up to the healthcare professional to assess whether or not you yourself are able to appreciate the situation.
Consent by next of kin
If a person is permanently unable to give his or her consent, for instance in certain cases of severe dementia, another person must receive information on the patient’s health and make decisions on behalf of the patient. Still, the patient must be involved as much as possible in making decisions on the course of examination and treatment. In such cases, the representative is usually the patient’s next of kin – this could be their co-habiting spouse or partner, children or other relatives. However, there is no requirement for this person to be a relative or family member; anyone else who is particularly close to the patient may be considered as well. The healthcare professional in charge will assess each situation in this respect.