Informed consent in medical aesthetics

02 February 2023
Volume 12 · Issue 1


Cara Docherty and Natalie McCartney advise on the importance of obtaining informed consent prior to cosmetic treatments and offer guidance on the consent process

It is essential that aesthetic nurse practitioners have a detailed and robust consenting process to ensure patients are able to make informed decisions, and to protect themselves against complaints or claims.

Issues surrounding informed consent are perhaps more important in cosmetic cases than in any other specialty. These cases are unique in that the majority of procedures seek to enhance the claimant's appearance rather than to treat a disease and are therefore, in the medical sense, not absolutely necessary.

You may be familiar with the court decision of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board (2015) UKSC 11. This was a case in which damages were awarded as a result of a failure to adequately explain the relatively low risk of shoulder dystocia to a diabetic mother whose son developed cerebral palsy as a result of lack of oxygen during delivery. Although the risk of this complication was minimal, the court accepted the mother's evidence that she would have attached significant weight to it and would have opted for a caesarean section. The court ruled that a medical practitioner is under a duty to warn a patient of all material risks inherent in any procedure.

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