Role of the consent form in UK veterinary practice

17 Oct 2020

Gray, C.

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Background

Informed consent from the client is required before veterinary professionals may administer treatment or perform surgery on an animal patient, except in an emergency. This study investigates the potential role(s) of the consent form in the consent process in the UK.

Methods

Thematic analysis was carried out on the text contained in 39 blank consent forms sourced from veterinary practices in the UK. Analysis was conducted at the levels of topical survey and thematic summary.

Results

Consent forms were used to authorise procedures, to define proposed treatment, to offer or recommend additional procedures, to convey the risks of treatment and to document the client’s financial obligations. None of the forms analysed provided sufficient space to document the accompanying conversation. Notable omissions from the submitted forms included options for treatment and benefits of treatment.

Conclusions

The consent form acts as a record of the procedure to be performed, the associated costs and the status of the person giving consent. However, from this analysis, it often fails to record the detail of the consent discussion, an essential part of the consent process. A proposal for an improved version of a veterinary consent form is provided.