Informed consent and shared decision-making
As informed consent is a professional requirement (see RCVS Code of Professional Conduct Supporting Guidance 11.2-11.12), it needs to be obtained before any treatment is given to an animal.
A simple way of ensuring that you have obtained consent is to use a shared decision-making approach. This involves the client at every stage of the decision-making process, sharing information about each option, therefore ensuring that you have also obtained informed consent.
The articles listed below (all open access) explain the shared decision-making approach. A straightforward way to incorporate this strategy into all of your consultations is to adopt the process described by Elwyn and others (paper is listed below):
- Choice talk: inform your client that there is more than one way of treating the patient (all options should be offered at this stage, including referral to other practices if available.)
- Option talk: go through each option with risks and benefits for each. Try to prevent an early decision at this stage. If non-urgent, provide access to information for client to read later if possible.
- Decision talk: answer client questions, investigate client preferences and constraints (e.g. financial); help your client to make a decision that is best for the patient, for their circumstances and that fits with their values.
What if there is only one option?
Shared decision-making only works where more than one option exists.
In the case of a single option, then you should aim for informed consent, with your client being fully informed of the risks, benefits and costs of the proposed treatment.
- Shared decision making model for practice by Elwyn
- Twelve myths about shared decision-making by Légaré and Thompson-Leduc
Recommended websites to share with your clients
- Veterinary Poisons Information Service
- Pet Poison Helpline – American site – but gives more info to owners
- International Cat Care
- Canine Arthritis Management
- Rabbit Welfare Association
- Pets WebMD (American site but laid out nicely and most is relevant for UK)
If you have a resource that you would like to add to the site, please contact the site owner, Carol Gray, at email@example.com
If you would like to link to the site from your practice webpages, you are very welcome to do so.
DISCLAIMER: the information collated on these pages is not designed to replace a visit to the vet, but to supplement it. The author of this site cannot be held responsible for any inaccurate information, which has been reviewed in good faith. Petconsent has no control over any of the sites to which the site is linked, and therefore is not responsible for the content of any off-site pages or any other sites linked to the Petconsent site.
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