Paramedics College – Consent to Treatment

Consent to Treatment

Micro-lecture by the Australian Paramedical College

In today’s micro-lecture, Australian Paramedical College Hon. Snr. Lecturer Sam Willis talks about consent to treatment in paramedic practice which should underpin everything that you do as you are treating and caring for very vulnerable members of the community.

Consent to Treatment

Today we’re going to talk about consent to treatment. Now consent is something that is the cornerstone of paramedic practice, and should underpin everything that we do as paramedics. Now when you’re a paramedic, you really are treating and caring for the most vulnerable members of the community. Generally speaking, people don’t tend to call 000 for an ambulance when everything’s going well for them. Meaning that when you guys turn up as paramedics, you really are in a position whereby the patient is putting trust in you.

Now in terms of consent, you have to think carefully about what the patient is telling you with regards to their consent to treatment. Now as you know, as a paramedic it’s your job to go in, assess the situation, provide information, provide advice, and also provide treatment, and then decide on what’s going to happen next. But it’s so important that you make sure that the patient is part of that process. But it’s very easy to think that you know what’s best for the patient when really they are the ones that are making that call, not you.

So let’s talk a little bit about the different types of consent. Now the three that you’ll hear most about are implied consent. So implied consent means that they are implying that you can treat them. And there’s two examples that I like to give here. The first one is, if you were to walk over towards the patient with a blood pressure cuff and go like this towards them, and they put their arm out, then that’s implied consent. They’re implying that it’s okay for you to do that. Now the other example with implied consent is if somebody’s fully unconscious. They are implying that they need your help and they can’t make the decision on their own.

Then there’s the informed consent. So let’s say you need to give your patient an anti-sickness drug. You need to say to them, “Look. What I’d like to do is to put a little needle in your arm and give you this drug. This drug will help you to feel much more relaxed. It will get rid of the sensation nausea. However, it will come with side effects. These are the side effects. And it does involve putting a needle in your arm. And this may cause, you know, phlebitis and some swelling if I get this wrong. Is that okay with you? That’s your call. You decide.”

Then the third type that you’re gonna hear quite a bit about is written consent. So in another words, the patient has to sign a document to give you consent. And all of those types of consent are valid in paramedic practice. Notice here on this image, it says that consent must be active based on equal power. It must be a choice that the patient makes, and it’s a process that requires ongoing conversations. In other words, if the patient withdraws their consent, you have to stop treating them. It’s as simple as that. And a good example from paramedic practice, is let’s say the patient has consented to you taking them to hospital. And then they withdraw that consent. It’s simple. You have to stop the ambulance and let them out in a safe area. So that’s really a summary of consent, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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