Informed Consent form on doctor desk

Are you able to make your own medical decisions? You aren’t if you don’t understand the purpose of the procedure. 

Informed consent is arguably the top component in determining if a guardianship is necessary. There are many areas where informed consent is needed, but the primary place it comes up is in medical decisions. 

Let us walk through these questions together to see how this all relates to guardianship and least restrictive alternatives.

Informed consent is a principle in medical ethics, medical law, and medical studies. A person must have sufficient information and understanding before making decisions about their medical care. The informed consent process is a critical link between the individual and their medical provider. 

Every person regardless of their age, IQ, or abilities should be given the time and respect by medical professionals to talk through topics at their level and preferred communication methods. All available means of communication should be used when discussing medical topics. This could include written, verbal, and videos/pictures in the patients’ preferred language, prior to the professional proceeding on a particular care plan path. Areas the patient should be able to communicate back are the diagnosis, treatment options, and alternatives. If they cannot do this, the medical professional has an obligation to stop and rethink the patient’s ability to give informed consent. 

How and who decides if a person can give informed consent? Usually, the medical professional is the one who can decide if a person is understanding what is going on and if they can direct the medical team. 

True, medical lingo can be difficult for any of us to understand. The real test of informed consent is: 

  • Did the medical professional explain the information and decisions that needed to be made?
  • Could the patient explain to the medical professional what they heard and what they understood?
  • Does the medical professional believe the patient understands the pros and cons of the information provided? 
  • Can the medical professional ethically and legally document the interaction and understanding of the patient?

If all these answers are “Yes,” informed consent has been obtained. If the answer is “No” to any of these questions, the medical professional may need to employ different techniques or alternatives which could include guardianship

While informed consent is not the only test for guardianship, it is a major element. Every person has the right to get information and to ask questions before procedures and treatments. Being able to consent or direct your medical professionals is an important part of ability. 

Supported Decision Making Agreement, Durable Medical Power of Attorney, and other declarations are great alternatives to guardianship. For these alternatives to be successful, the individual must completely and fully understand and consent to the documents and the content. 

Hammerle Finley Can Help With Your Guardianship Needs

If you or a loved one has questions about adult guardianship, schedule a consultation with the experienced attorneys and staff at Hammerle Finley Law Firm.

Courtney Carey is a Texas Certified Guardian and a Care Manager, with experience in Texas Medicaid waiver programs, intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health, and geriatrics. This blog does not constitute legal advice.