Informed consent is a process for getting permission before conducting a healthcare intervention on a person, or for disclosing personal information. A health care provider may ask a patient to consent to receive therapy before providing it, or a clinical researcher may ask a research participant before enrolling that person into a clinical trial. Informed consent is collected according to guidelines from the fields of medical ethics and research ethics.
An informed consent can be said to have been given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and consequences of an action. Adequate informed consent is rooted in respecting a person’s dignity. To give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts. Impairments to reasoning and judgment that may prevent informed consent include basic intellectual or emotional immaturity, high levels of stress such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or a severe intellectual disability, severe mental disorder, intoxication, severe sleep deprivation, Alzheimer’s disease, or being in a coma.
Obtaining informed consent is not always required. If an individual is considered unable to give informed consent, another person is generally authorized to give consent on his behalf, e.g., parents or legal guardians of a child (though in this circumstance the child may be required to provide informed assent) and conservators for the mentally disordered, or consent can be assumed through the doctrine of implied consent, e.g., when an unconscious person will die without immediate medical treatment.