Before your surgery you will be asked to sign a ‘Consent Form’. This form is simply documentation that your surgeon has undertaken the process of ‘informed consent’, it is not a legal document. It is a form that is signed by a patient to confirm that they are fully aware of the procedure which they are about to undergo, that it has been explained clearly to them and that they agreed to it being undertaken. This does not absolve the hospital or the medical team of any responsibility if they are negligent in any way.
It is the legal duty of any health professional who is going to treat you to give you as much information as possible about any intended procedure. This must include telling you about any possible risks or complications as well as discussing any possible alternative treatment. Whilst they can recommend one course of action over another, the final decision as to whether or not you consent to this or sign a consent form is up to you.
In certain circumstances it may become obvious that you would benefit from an additional procedure that was not included in your original consent. This extra procedure cannot be done for the convenience of the medical team, hospital or patient. There must be a clear medical reason why it would be unsafe to proceed without your consent.
There is no minimum legal age limit at which a child cannot give consent to treatment independently. If the consultant treating the child judges that they are mature and capable enough to make their own decision they can give consent without their parents’ consent. This can be an area of contention and most hospitals set an age level of 16 years, below which a parent or legal guardian must sign the consent form before treatment.