The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has published a series of case studies to aid veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses regarding the important issue of gaining informed consent from clients for procedures and treatments as well as advice on communication.
The case studies (published at www.rcvs.org.uk/informed-consent) were developed by the RCVS Standards Committee and use a variety of examples of where miscommunication between a client and the veterinary practice can lead to an inadequate level of consent being gained for procedures and treatment, including euthanasia. Examples include damaged teeth being removed during a clean and polish dental procedure without the owner’s express permission and not giving the full range of options available in the case of a dog with an osteosarcoma.
The case studies follow the Standards Committee approving changes to chapter 11 (‘Communication and consent’) of the supporting guidance to the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct in January 2018 to give further advice on how to discuss informed consent with clients, who can be responsible for gaining consent for a procedure and additional guidance on consent forms.
Dr Kate Richards MRCVS, Chair of the RCVS Standards Committee, said: “We hope these case studies will prove useful to practitioners who are having to deal with the complexities around making sure that procedures are fully explained to ensure informed consent is gained.
“We understand the difficulties that are encountered and so these case studies, based on real-life scenarios, highlight where things may go wrong and how these incidents can be avoided by being thorough and ensuring that good communication is at the heart of all we do.”