Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s inaugural informed consent month

6 June 2022

In a first for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), June has been dedicated as Informed Consent Month. The education and awareness initiative aims to increase knowledge of informed consent among staff, consumers, patients and the community.

As a GP, you give information to patients on a daily basis about recommended tests, referrals, treatments and procedures - including their purpose, importance, benefits, and risks.

Patients have a right to make informed decisions about their health and the healthcare they receive. Informed consent is more than a signature on a form, a verbal ‘yes’ or a nod of the head. Informed consent requires the health care provider to give enough, sufficiently specific information to the patient so they can have a genuine understanding of the risks, benefits and expected outcomes of all options for tests and treatment – including no treatment.

ISLHD estimates that up to 70% of consents for procedures performed in public hospitals are obtained in private rooms. So, most informed consent conversations start in primary healthcare between the patient and their GP.

During Informed Consent Month ISLHD are encouraging all doctors:

  • to reflect on best practice for informed consent
  • ensure the patient has the capacity to make decisions for themselves
  • explain information in plain language
  • encourage question asking and check understanding.

GPs can order and display the ‘5 Good Questions to Ask’ resources from Choosing Wisely Australia - these are all free resources.

For more information please see the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' Information sheet: informed patient choices.

Illawarra Shoalhaven