Consent Advice for Radiotherapy

  • Reference Number: HEY-069/2016
  • Departments: Radiotherapy

Introduction

This leaflet is intended to explain the purpose behind the consent form and what you need to know before signing the form. Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.   If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team who has been caring for you.

Consent

When a doctor or other health professional gives you any form of examination or treatment they will need your permission. Sometimes just a verbal agreement is enough but for some procedures a more formal signed consent is needed. This is the case for your radiotherapy treatment.

It is important to note that even once the consent form has been signed you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You do not need to decide immediately if you would like to have the proposed treatment, if you need to take more time to make up your mind you can ask your doctor for this.

What do I need to know?

You need to be able to understand fully the proposed treatment. This means that you need to be aware of what the treatment involves, what the aims and benefits of the treatment are, and also the chances of achieving these benefits. You should also be aware of any risks of the treatment, including any common or rare side-effects that you may suffer during or after the treatment. It should also be explained to you if there are any alternative treatments available and what would happen to you if you decline the treatment.

It is up to you which, if any, treatment you choose. This can vary according to your own personal attitude and feelings.

What sort of questions should I ask?

You can ask about anything that you would like to know regarding your proposed treatment. It can sometimes be helpful to write down any questions before you attend for an appointment with your doctor. It can also be helpful to have a friend or relative at these appointments to prompt you to ask questions or to remember what has been said.

Possible questions you may like to know the answer to are:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What will these treatments involve?
  • What are the risks and benefits of these treatments?
  • What are the chances of achieving these benefits?
  • What are the risks of not receiving any treatment?
  • How will I feel after the treatment?
  • Will my lifestyle be affected?

What if I am asked to take part in research?

Some patients may be asked to take part in a clinical trial. This will not affect your treatment and you can agree to your treatment without consenting to take part in the trial. Any trial will have already been subjected to rigorous testing by an ethics committee and will not mean you receive a lesser treatment.

Even if you do agree to take part in a research project you are free to withdraw from this at any time. You can also ask any additional questions about the research. You should also receive an information sheet about the trial you may be taking part in. Your doctor or research nurse will give you more information about the details of any trial they may think is appropriate for you.

Is there anything my healthcare professional should ask?

If there is anything in particular that you are concerned about you should let your healthcare professional know. For example if you have any allergies or illnesses that you currently suffer from, or have suffered from in the past. You should also let your treatment team know if there is any procedure that you know you do not want to happen to you.

If you are female aged between 12 – 55 years of age your healthcare professional should also get you to confirm that you are not pregnant for anything that involves exposure to radiation.

Sometimes you may be asked if you mind if a clinical photograph may be taken. This is used to ensure that your treatment set-up is the same every day. You will also be asked if you consent to a head and shoulders photograph being taken of you for identification purposes. These photographs will remain in your notes in confidence and will only be accessed by those responsible for your care.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Radiotherapy Information and Support Team on telephone number (01482) 461206, or email Radiotherapy.Info@hey.nhs.uk.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.