New research by law firm Your Legal Friend has found that almost two thirds of Britons (64%) do not fully understand their right to make an informed choice when receiving medical treatment, whilst almost a quarter (22%) admit they are not aware of the right at all.
The ‘Healthcare & you:An informed choice?’report examines the UK population’s understanding of informed consent - an ethical principal that ensures patients receive all relevant information regarding their diagnosis and treatment options before they agree to proceed.
The survey revealed over half of people (56%) think that medical professionals simply don’t have the time available to make sure patients are fully informed, rising to 64% for those who have received treatment from a GP during the last 12 months.
It also found that around a third of people (34%) felt that the medical professional they most recently discussed their condition with didn’t know them well enough to make the best recommendation.
The report demonstrates that, while a significant proportion of the population (42%) believe that medical errors happen frequently, 82% of those questioned admitted they would not be completely confident challenging a medical professional’s recommended treatment.
Laura Morgan, Head of Clinical Negligence at Your Legal Friend, said: “The report’s findings reveal a concerning gap in public awareness of patients’ rights and responsibilities.
“By understanding the importance of giving informed consent, patients could be helping healthcare professionals to avoid errors occurring in both diagnosis and treatment.
“The UK healthcare system has principles in place to protect patients and provide choice, so people should not be afraid to ask questions, take time to understand their situation and have the confidence to challenge medical professionals if they feel in any way uncomfortable.
“It’s our hope that the findings of the surveyencourage people to take a more active role in their healthcare. By making sure we have all of the information we need when choosing treatment, we can all play a part in improving the standard of care in the UK.”
Your Legal Friend’s research also found that, despite significant investment in increasing transparency and patient choice, many people are not exercising these rights.
Nearly half (49%) of people questioned said they were happy to accept their recommended hospital and consultant without conducting any research.
A significant proportion of people (39%) were not aware they had the right to choose the consultant and hospital which provides their treatment.
The findings from the ‘Healthcare & you:An informed choice?’report are based on arepresentative survey sample of 2,000 UK residents. Other key findings from the report include:
The report also includes the following advice to patients:
Your Legal Friend is one of the UK's leading litigation firms, offering a range of legal services and advice to the victims of personal injury and negligence. It is part of 2020 Legal Limited, which also trades as Camps Solicitors.
As a whole, 2020 Legal Limited has over 30 years' experience working with the victims of non-fault claims and accidents, handling thousands of cases every year.