chapter
Introduction
Pages 2

Consent is now a central issue in clinical practice. Doctors and nurses can no longer impose their views on patients as to what constitutes best care. Rather, they need to have the agreement of patients to any intervention - from a simple physical examination to the most complex surgical procedure. >ithout this agreement, clinical practitioners are open to allegations of assault. As part of the decision-making process, patients re;uire more and more information about procedures. <ow risky is it? Does the doctor or nurse have experience in performing the procedure? Are they competent at this particular intervention or do they usually have complications? These are the ;uestions which doctors, nurses and other practitioners will have to face with increasing fre­ ;uency, and they cannot be ignored. Consent by patients therefore re;uires three elements, namely 'voluntariness, capacity and know­ ledge',1 and 'for a consent to be legally valid, all three must be present'.1