Explicit consent

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Is it appropriate or practical to seek explicit consent?

See paragraph 14 for examples of when this might not be the case.


You may disclose information on the basis of implied consent for direct care when the conditions in paragraphs 28 and 29 are met, and for local clinical audit when the conditions in paragraph 96 are met. In other cases, you should ask for explicit consent to disclose personal information unless it is not appropriate or practicable to do so.

For example, this might be because:

  1. the disclosure is required by law (see paragraphs 17 - 19)
  2. you are satisfied that informed consent has already been obtained by a suitable person7 
  3. the patient does not have capacity to make the decision. In such a case, you should follow the guidance on disclosures about patients who lack capacity to consent (see paragraphs 41 - 49)
  4. you have reason to believe that seeking consent would put you or others at risk of serious harm
  5. seeking consent would be likely to undermine the purpose of the disclosure, for example by prejudicing the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime
  6. action must be taken quickly, for example in the detection or control of outbreaks of some communicable diseases where there is insufficient time to contact the patient
  7. seeking consent is not feasible given the number or age of records, or the likely traceability of patients.
  8. you have already decided to disclose information in the public interest (see paragraphs 63 - 70).