As a healthcare consumer, you have to make many decisions about the care you receive. Who should my healthcare provider be? What hospital should I visit in an emergency? Is this insurance plan right for me and my family? And so on.
As decisions are being made, it’s your responsibility to make wise choices, to be informed and to take charge of your health. You should be an active participant in your health and in your care so that you can make a decision that is best for you.
Understanding Informed Consent
What is informed consent? Informed consent is an autonomous decision made by a person after having been provided with the relevant facts and risks of a medical intervention. This includes the option to accept, delay or decline any test, procedure or drug.
All medical professionals are required to obtain consent for procedures. Consent cannot be coerced and should only include the facts about your procedure or drug, including, but not limited to, the side effects.
You have the right to ask questions before consenting to any test, procedure or medication. If you don’t understand what is taking place, ask questions. Your practitioner should be forthcoming with information and resources and should take your unique needs and situation into consideration. You should continue to ask questions until you are confident that you have the information necessary to make an informed decision.
Be an Advocate
You are your best advocate. Asking questions of your health practitioners and taking charge of your health may seem like a bold act, but it will ensure that you’re fully informed and aware of what is taking place in and to your body. Making a decision that’s aligned with your values and desires may fall outside of the realm of standard practice, and may even be viewed as an inconvenience, but it is your right to do so.
Don’t be bullied into a decision because you have not taken the time to ask questions, learn about your rights or are afraid to stand up for yourself. Being informed is another way to care for your mind, body and spirit and ensure that you’re receiving holistic care. As you take charge of your health, you will begin to feel empowered and this confidence will guide you toward decisions that are best for your health and your life.