'Informed Consent' is a legal phrase that is meant to suggest
that the voluntary consent given by an individual about a certain
issue is validated against specific minimum standards. The legal
importance of this phrase becomes null if there is no issue of
An individual is said to be able to express their 'informed consent'
only if they are in a position to clearly appreciate and understand
all inclusive facts, their implications and probable future consequences
of their actions in support or in opposition of an issue.
An individual can offer their 'informed consent' only if they
possess required reasoning faculties and all related facts while
they are about to offer their consent. If an individual is underage
or if they are facing impairment to reasoning ability because
of any reason such as severe mental illness or retardation, intellectual
and emotional immaturity, stressful conditions such as PTSD, intoxication,
Alzheimer's illness, or if they are in coma, then they are simply
not in a position to offer 'informed consent.'
In absence of 'informed consent' some actions cannot be legally
validated. If a person is unable to offer their 'informed consent,'
another person is often offered the authority to give consent
on behalf of that person. In case of children, parents or legal
guardians hold the authority to give informed consent while in
case of mentally ill person; the care providers for that person
hold that responsibility or right.
In some cases, such as a medical emergency, doctors hold the
right to decide about the treatment to be given to a severely
injured person who is admitted in a hospital after a major accident
in unconscious state while there is no one available on his behalf
to offer an 'informed consent'. The doctors in such case are allowed
to take any necessary life saving measures including major operations
In absence of sufficient information for an individual to make
a proper 'informed consent,' critical ethical issues may erupt.
Often organizations and hospitals create ethics committee or Institutional
Review Board to make sure that all individuals involving in a
clinical trial for a medical research or similar cases are in
position to make an informed consent.
The importance of informed consent is discussed in cases of medical
malpractice. Doctors and medical practitioners are
required to offer all relevant information about a medical act
or operation along with all probable consequences in advance before
operating an individual. If the individual makes a informed consent,
then only doctors are allowed to operate. In absence of situations
and sufficient information for patient to make an informed consent,
doctors and practitioners can be charged of professional negligence
or breach of duty of care.
Informed consent is also important in some cases of sexual acts
such as planned rape fantasies. One major debatable issue regarding
informed consent is whether a person can withdraw their informed
consent to have sex during the sexual act at any time. While informed
consent is legally necessary before the initiation of a sexual
intercourse, if a person decides to withdraw their consent during
the sexual act, then other person can be charged for rape or sexual