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4. I am a patient and am being asked by my doctor to sign a "consent form" that shows that I accept the treatment or operation. If I sign this consent form but my condition worsens as a result of the treatment or operation, can I still claim against the doctor for compensation?

Consent from the patient is required before undertaking examinations, arranging investigations or prescribing a course of treatment or other intervention. However, a signature on a form is of itself not evidence of valid consent. There are three fundamental requirements for valid consent:

 

  • the patient has the ability to understand what is proposed.
  • the patient has been provided with the relevant information necessary to enable an informed choice.
  • and that the consent is freely given. A signature on a form is of itself not evidence of valid consent.

A valid consent must be obtained before a doctor can start treatment or provide care for a patient. This is especially the case when a patient has to undergo medical treatment or an operation in a hospital. Children under 16 or those who do not have sufficient understanding or intelligence normally require the consent of their parents or guardians before they can undergo medical treatment.

 

A signed consent form is merely evidence that the patient signed the form, but it does not mean that the patient necessarily understood the significance or implications of the treatment that is proposed on the form. For such consent to be valid, the patient must know the specific treatment to which they are consenting and its nature and purpose. Therefore, the fact that a patient signed a consent form cannot in itself prevent a patient from making a claim for compensation against a doctor if medical negligence was involved.

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