- Ask questions. If you don’t understand or have any questions or concerns regarding what your vet is suggesting, you must let your vet know. Often these can be answered simply, putting your mind at rest. If not, it is important to discuss this with your vet, to make sure you are happy for the procedure to go ahead. Apart from in exceptional circumstances (for example if your pet will die without immediate intervention), your vet cannot do anything to your pet without your consent. As you can imagine, informed consent is really important for our vets!
- Make sure whoever gives consent is authorised. Your vet has to be satisfied that you are the owner registered in the clinical records, and are over 18, in order to accept your signature for consent. If you cannot be there, please make sure you have authorised an agent to act on your behalf.
- Give up-to-date contact details. Your vet may need or want to get hold of you during your pet’s stay to discuss changes in condition, new findings, or results that influence the treatment plan. Being available for your vet to have these discussions is very important, as if your vet cannot reach you, they will not be able to alter treatment from the original plan. If your vet does contact you to recommend a change, in this instance you can give informed consent over the phone.
- Language. If English is not your native language and you feel you may struggle to understand what you are being asked to consent to, you need to bring along a family member or friend who can help you. You can also speak to the vet ahead of time, to make sure you will be happy on the day.
Although it is a daily part of a vet’s routine, informed consent is always taken very seriously. If you or your vet feel that you are, for any reason, unable to give informed consent, your vet can help with suggestions on how to proceed. This may be with support from a family member, friend, carer or translator, depending on the circumstances of the problem.
Informed consent is vital to protect you, your pet and your vet, keeping everyone up-to-date and helping you and your vet plan the very best care for your pet.