Volume 11 | No. 3 | May / Jun 2023 query_builder 1 minute

Consent to Treatment: a new practice standard and related inquiries

Practice standard


Consent to Treatment practice standard

The College’s role is to protect the public by ensuring that registrants provide ethical, safe, quality care. Consent is a fundamental component in the delivery of medical care—most care cannot occur without valid consent. Therefore, a practice standard focused on consent was deemed an important tool to ensure consistency in the process and reflect the minimum standard of professional and ethical conduct expected of registrants.

The development process for this practice standard spanned an 18-month period and included an environmental scan, and a consultation with the public, registrants, patient advocacy groups, and health-care providers who work with patient populations that may experience greater challenges in providing proper informed consent. Through these efforts, specific barriers in the consent process were identified and incorporated into the practice standard and resources. 

The Consent to Treatment practice standard and Consent to Treatment – Equity Considerations registrant resource were endorsed by the Executive Committee in April and published on the College website. 

Related inquiries

The College received questions from registrants that highlighted confusion in discerning between an Enduring Power of Attorney (PoA) and Representation Agreements. Understanding the difference between these documents is important. A PoA allows legal and financial decisions only, whereas a Representation Agreement appoints a representative for personal health-care decisions requiring informed consent. Misinterpretations of the role of these decision-makers can lead to improper decision-making, and a breach of informed consent. More information can be found here.

The College has also heard from registrants and members of the public about challenges in accessing adequate interpretation when English is not a patient’s primary language. Without adequate interpretation, patients are not able to provide true informed consent. A recent study found that there is a low uptake in the use of interpretation services by family physicians in the province, despite it being a free service. As a reminder, Provincial Language Services is available to all registrants, free of charge, and the College strongly encourages its use. 

Questions regarding the practice standard can be directed to communications@cpsbc.ca.