New GMC guidance on decision making and consent

Topics covered: Anna Maria Lemmer, GMC, mental capacity

The General Medical Council (“GMC”) has published guidance titled, ‘Guidance on professional standards and ethics for doctors: Decision making and consent’ and it came into effect on 9 November 2020.

The guidance explains that shared decision making and consent are fundamental to good medical practice and that doctors must be satisfied that they have a patient’s consent or other valid authority before providing treatment or care. The purpose of the guidance is to help doctors to meet this standard and it reflects the ethical principles that underpin good practice.

The aim of the guidance is to support doctors in conversations that they are having with their patients and help them to be confident that they are sharing information with patients and that they have informed consent.

The guidance provides advice to doctors in relation to the following areas:

  • What you should tell a patient when talking about risks
  • What to do if your patient does not want to hear information you think is relevant
  • What to do if your patient may lack capacity to make a decision
  • What information you should record.

What is the relevance of this guidance for GP’s?

The guidance reiterates the importance of ensuring that decision making is robust and that patients have given their informed consent.

A copy of the guidance can be accessed here.

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