We have created a new Guide to the Health Care Consent Act to help midwives understand their professional and legal obligation to obtain informed consent prior to providing treatment to clients.
The College’s professional standards require that midwives recognize clients as the primary-decision makers and provide informed choice in all aspects of care by:
- Providing information so clients are informed when making decisions about their care
- Advising clients about the nature of any proposed treatment, including the expected benefits, material risks and side effects, alternative courses of action and likely consequences of not having treatment
- Making efforts to understand and appreciate what is motivating clients’ choices
- Allowing clients adequate time for decision-making
- Ensuring treatment is only provided with the client’s informed and voluntary consent unless otherwise permitted by law
- Supporting clients’ right to accept or refuse treatment
- Respecting the degree to which clients want to be involved in decisions about their care.
In addition to midwives’ professional obligations, midwives are legally required to obtain consent prior to providing treatment.
Failure to obtain consent in situations where consent is required by law is professional misconduct under the College’s Professional Misconduct Regulation under the Midwifery Act. It may also result in midwives being held liable in court through civil proceedings. A midwife’s legal obligations for obtaining consent is set out in the Health Care Consent Act (“HCCA”).
The purpose of this guide is to outline these obligations. However, it is not intended to exhaustively cover all of the obligations. In the event a midwife is unsure of their legal obligations in specific circumstances, the College recommends that they seek independent legal advice.