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If you’re under 16, this information is for you.
It tells you about your right to decide about your health care and treatment. You can accept or refuse any treatment, examinations or tests, and you can decide whether to take part in research. Your parent or the person who looks after you may find this information helpful too.
What do I need to know about consent?
- What does consent mean?
- Am I able to give consent?
- Who decides if I’m able to give consent?
- Who can give consent if I'm not able to?
- How do I give my consent?
- What information should I be given?
- Can I refuse examination and treatment?
- What if I change my mind?
It means agreement. A doctor, nurse, or anyone else looking after your health, like a dentist, has to have your agreement before they can examine or treat you.
- You can give consent if you can understand what is involved and decide things for yourself.
- You may not feel able to give consent for some things - each decision is different. Some decisions are more difficult than others.
- You may find it helpful to speak to someone else – for example your parent, guardian or another adult you trust.
- You can ask someone to help you express your views – for example your parent, guardian or another adult you trust. You can also have an advocate to help you. This is someone who can help make sure your views are heard and you get all the information you need to make your own decisions.
- Even if you can't give your consent, you can still be involved in discussions about your health care, if that’s what you want.
- A doctor or someone else looking after your health, like a dentist, will decide if you can give consent. They will decide this by talking to you. They have to be sure you can understand the kind of examination or treatment they are suggesting, and its possible effects.
- Your doctor or dentist may decide you can't give consent. If you’re unhappy about their decision you can:
- contact the Scottish Child Law Centre
- contact ChildLine. Their counsellors will give you help and support.
To find out how to do this, see how to find out more.
- If you can't give consent, your parent or the person who looks after you will be asked for their consent to your examination or treatment.
- If it’s an emergency and there’s no time for your parent or the perosn who looks after you to give their consent for you, doctors can treat you - but only if the treatment is to save your life or to stop you becoming even more unwell.
- By doing something to show your agreement. For example, your doctor may ask to examine your foot. If you take off your shoe, it shows you agree to this.
- Sometimes your doctor or another health professional will ask you to say if you agree.
- If the examination or treatment is complicated, like an operation, they will ask you to sign a form.
You need enough information to help you make a decision. The doctor,
nurse or other health worker must explain things to you in a way you can understand.If they don't do this, you should ask them to explain more clearly.
You may want to know:
- why you are being examined or treated
- what will happen
- what good it will do
- if there are any risks
- if there’s a different treatment you could choose instead
- what could happen if you don’t have the examination or treatment, or
- the name of the doctor or other health worker looking after you.
Remember you can ask:
- as many questions as you want
- for some information to take away
- for more time to make your decision.
If you need an interpreter, ask a member of staff to arrange this for you in advance.
- Yes, as long as you understand how this could affect your health.
- Your doctor and your parent or the person who looks after you should always listen to you, even if they disagree with your decision.
- It may help to talk about this with someone else you trust.
- In very unusual cases, if you have said no to treatment and you have a very serious condition, your parent or the person who looks after you may disagree with you and want to discuss your case with a lawyer.
- Your opinion will still be listened to and you can also have your own lawyer to help you. For more information contact the Scottish Child Law Centre.
- You can change your mind about agreeing to an examination or treatment at any time. But you need to understand how this could affect your health.
- Tell the person looking after you that you’ve changed your mind.
Page last edited: 26 July 2013