Principles of consent

  1. It is a general legal and ethical principle that valid consent must be obtained at the point of care and throughout treatment. This principle reflects the right of patients to determine what happens to their own bodies and make informed choices when purchasing optical appliances. Valid consent is a fundamental part of good practice.

Types of consent

  1. Patients can give consent in a variety of ways, all of which are equally valid.

a. Explicit consent
This is when a patient gives you specific permission to do something, either oral or written. You should obtain explicit consent where the procedure, treatment or care being proposed is more invasive and/or has greater risks involved. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, moving equipment close to a patient, using a pupilometer or carrying out a physical procedure such as instilling drops, inserting a contact lens or fitting spectacles.

b. Implied consent
This is when consent can be assumed from a patient’s actions, for example, by placing their chin on an instrument such as an autorefractor following an explanation of the test involved.

  1. You must use your professional judgement to decide what type of consent is required, taking into account the individual patient’s needs, expressed expectations and circumstances, as well as the associated risks. For more information on how to record consent please refer to paragraph 43: ‘Recording consent’ [Refusing and withdrawing consent].