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The importance of consent

Peter Ellis - Author Hannah Ellis First published: Last updated:

Discussions around consent have gained increasing prominence in healthcare in the last 30–40 years, as patients have become more aware of their rights.

This article defines consent, how it can be sought, why it is important and the consequences of not seeking or gaining it.

What is consent?

The word ‘consent’ originates from the Latin ‘consentire’, which means to be in agreement with or to be of the same mind. The definition of consent places emphasis on an individual wanting something to happen, rather than simply agreeing to it. The difference is subtle, yet meaningful:

‘I want to have my blood pressure taken because I understand it is helping monitor my condition.’

As opposed to:

‘I will let you take my blood pressure because you are a nurse.’

In a relationship between two parties, consent indicates trust and understanding, as well as respect if either party changes their mind.

While

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Peter Ellis

Hannah Ellis