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Expectant Parents Learning Center

Informed Consent - How to Change an Informed Consent

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Kitty Ernst, CNM, MPH

The informed consent in a birthing center is different from any informed consent that I've ever seen developed. First, it explains in detail what the birth center is capable of doing and what it is not capable of doing; the kind of situations it can handle and the kind of situations that will need hospitalization. It has a glossary that explains all the words that you might not understand; it's like a little dictionary. It has a list of responsibilities, the things that are your responsibility in your care during pregnancy, birth and after the birth, and the things that are the responsibility of your caregiver, your doctor or your midwife.

If there is anything you don't agree with in your informed consent, you have the right to change it. You simply do this by underlining the section that you want to change, making your change and then initialing it along with the initials of the care giver, indicating they have agreed to that change. You have to inform your caregiver of any changes you make in your informed consent, so that she/he can understand the change and agree to it. For example, you may say under no circumstances will I go to the hospital. The informed consent will say that if there is a problem, you are going to be transferred to the hospital where they have all of the equipment to care for problems. Your caregiver is not going to initial that. She/he has the right to take you to the hospital to give you the best care for your problem. So you do have the option of changing what is written in your informed consent if your caregiver is also in agreement with the change. Once you have signed an informed consent, you have agreed to it and it becomes a legal document.

Resources
The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) carries a wallet size card by Penny Simkin "Questions to Ask When a Treatment or Procedure is Recommended." For information on ordering, please contact ICEA Bookmarks at 800-624-4934.
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