Consent is a huge grey area in the medical profession. Giving a valid consent for treatment can be taken verbally, in writing or the person’s communication method. The patient has to be of sound mind at that time to give consent and be seen to have ‘Capacity’.
Capacity is specified under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as a person’s ability to take information, retain it, weigh up options and communicate their decision in any method – written, verbally or using their own method of communication.
Capacity is completely based at the time of assessment and does not take into account any prior or future occurrences, for example, someone who has capacity, but then becomes unconscious; the decision made whilst that person had capacity still stands, like putting a Do Not Resuscitate order in place.
If the patient is not deemed to have capacity at the time of treatment, and no prior written agreements are in place, the patient will be treated in their best interest by the medic dealing. This could be to put an unconscious person into the recovery position or to start CPR for example. This can also be put into effect if the person is grossly intoxicated through drink or drugs, sending them to a hospital via ambulance as another example.