We are modernizing the Good Practices Guide. Learn more

Informed consent

More than a signature

Overview and objectives

Elderly male sitting and leaning forward on cane
A patient discusses the complications from his knee replacement surgery
"My knee replacement surgery was a miserable experience. The pain was terrible. I experienced bleeding into the knee, developed a blood clot in my lung and to top it off my knee is so scarred I can't even fully straighten it. I still have pain today, nearly five years later. If I had only been told about all these complications I would never have gone ahead."
Female doctor holding a binder
Unfortunately, this patient developed a pulmonary embolus and arthrofibrosis after a total knee replacement. These complications can occur with the best of care.


This section describes the ethical and legal principles of informed consent – why it's important and how it's obtained.


After completing this topic you will be able to:

  • Describe the 3 key elements of valid consent.
  • List the elements of informed consent.
  • Explain the role of informed consent and the purpose of the consent form.