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One of the main reasons Consent Forms are required before any medical treatment can be administered is to be sure you are know what you need to know in order to give informed consent to a treatment.

Content of a medical conseent form: Although the forms vary from state to state, there are basics that should always be included, such as a description of the treatment. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, consent forms should include:

  • Why the procedure or treatment is recommended.
  • A description of the procedure or surgery, including anesthesia.
  • A description of benefits to the patient.
  • A description of the risks to the patient, including degree of severity or likelihood of complications. When risks are spelled out in black and white they can look very scary. If you have questions, ask the doctor questions such as:
    • How often do the worrisome events occur in general?
    • How often do the events occur in your particular doctor's experience?
    • What can be done if one of the events occurs?
  • Probable consequences of declining the recommended therapy.
  • Probable consequences of any other treatments.
  • The name of the doctor or surgeon conducting the procedure, as well as the name of other doctors performing tasks related to the procedure, such as the person administering anesthesia.

Consent forms are usually provided just before a treatment begins. For instance, with surgical procedures, patients have been asked to sign the consent form just before being wheeled into the operating room. Rather than waiting until a time when it is difficult to concentrate or to stop a procedure, you can ask for a copy in advance of treatment. This will provide you with an opportunity to review the contents and ask any questions.

A simple method to ensure you understand the information in a Consent Form is to repeat back to a doctor what you believe the risks and benefits of the procedure are, as well as the likelikhood and degree of severity of possible complications.

Before signing a consent form:

  • Make sure you agree with everything it says.
  • Make any necessary changes in ink. For example, if surgery is the proposed treatment, and you want a specific doctor to perform the operation, do not sign a consent form that allows a partner or associate to perform the surgery.
  • Initial the changes in ink.
  • Make sure the doctor reads the changes you make before starting the treatment.
  • Get a copy of the signed document for your files.