New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by John Spicer & Rehana Iqbal (2011)
The process of seeking the consent of a patient to a medical procedure is, arguably, one of the most important skills a doctor, or indeed any clinician, should learn. In fact, the very idea that doctors may institute diagnostic or treatment processes of any sort without a patient's consent is utterly counter-intuitive to the modern practice of medicine. It was not always thus, and even now it can be reliably assumed that consent is still not sought and gained appropriately in every clinical encounter. To say that it should be sought and gained in this manner elevates the value of consent to a high level. It can be instructive to ask oneself why such a value might be held to be the case. The answer to this question lies in the philosophical underpinning of clinical consent, which sits within a notion of personal autonomy, and respect for autonomous decision making.