AVMA adopts policy on informed consent

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NOTE: As of November 2007, the AVMA discontinued use of the term "informed consent" in matters relating to veterinary medicine replacing it with the term "owner consent". (see JAVMA News, Dec. 15)

On recommendation from the Council on Veterinary Service, the AVMA Executive Board approved a policy on informed consent.

The AVMA policy reads as follows:

Informed consent

Informed consent better protects the public by ensuring that veterinarians provide sufficient information in a manner so that clients may reach appropriate decisions regarding the care of their animals.

Veterinarians, to the best of their ability, should inform the client or authorized agent, in a manner that would be understood by a reasonable person, of the diagnostic and treatment options, risk assessment, and prognosis, and should provide the client or authorized agent with an estimate of the charges for veterinary services to be rendered. The client or authorized agent should indicate that the information is understood and consents to the recommended treatment or procedure.

Documentation of verbal or written informed consent and the client's understanding is recommended.

The council noted that, while developing the policy, it reviewed a number of inquiries from AVMA members and the public requesting the Association to develop a position statement on informed consent.