Informed consent to treatment

Dr. Vic Weatherall
Updated January 11, 2016

A better understanding of the issue of “informed consent to treatment” and your rights can help you make wise health care choices.

What is “informed consent”?

Before undergoing any health care procedure, you have the right to make an informed decision about what the care will involve. Consequently, chiropractors (and all other health care providers) must obtain your “informed consent” prior to performing a procedure or guiding a course of therapy. The purpose of obtaining your informed consent to a health care intervention (test or therapy) is to empower you to make educated choices in an environment of trust and cooperation.

The Ontario Health Care Consent Act of 1996 states that your consent to treatment is “informed” if you have received information about the matters listed below and you received responses to any request for additional information. “Treatment” is defined broadly as anything done for a therapeutic, preventative, palliative, diagnostic, cosmetic, or any other health related purpose. The Act states that you must be told the

  1. nature of the treatment
  2. expected benefits
  3. material (serious) risks
  4. material side effects
  5. alternative courses of action
  6. likely consequences of not having the treatment

The Act states that consent to treatment may be express (given in writing or verbally) or implied (indicated by an action or behaviour, such as rolling up a shirt sleeve). However, the basic elements of disclosure remain the same.

There are several exclusions to the term “treatment,” as defined in the Act, including taking a history, performing an assessment to determine the general nature of a problem, and communicating a diagnosis to a patient. Of special note, it also excludes a treatment that, in the circumstances, poses little or no risk of harm to a patient.

All Ontario chiropractors, are required to obtain informed consent as a Standard of Practice as described in S-013: Consent. They also use a standardized Consent to Chiropractic Treatment form. This form identifies the general forms of treatment chiropractors typically provide, benefits, risks, and alternatives. It also encourages the patient to ask questions about proposed and ongoing treatment. Each consent discussion is tailored to the specific situation.

To schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Vic Weatherall.