scenario Consent to Treatment

Informed consent for protein Supplementation

You are a dietitian working at a long-term care facility.  A number of residents are identified as requiring additional protein in their meal plans. You think it would be a good idea to add a protein supplement to their  mashed potatoes. The cook tells you that the residents won’t be able to taste the difference and will never know that the supplement was added. What kind of consent would you need from the residents?

In this scenario, you would need to determine whether adding the protein supplement is a treatment. "Treatment" means “anything that is done for a therapeutic, preventive, palliative, diagnostic, cosmetic or other health related purpose, and includes a course of treatment, plan of treatment or community treatment plan.” (Health Care Consent Act, 1996). Informed consent must be obtained for any treatment. Providing a balanced diet might not be viewed as treatment, however, adding a specific substance to food for a therapeutic purpose would be considered treatment. Therefore, consent would be needed from the residents to add the protein supplement to their diet.
The fact that an intervention is positive is not a reason to assume that consent is not needed. This can be a general consent obtained at the time of admission to the facility, or otherwise.

The principle that clients should make their own treatment decisions is based on a number of rationales.
  • Individuals have control over their bodies. Dietitians should not touch, examine or otherwise interfere with another person's body without true consent. Meaningful consent requires that the client knows everything needed to make an informed decision.

  • Dietitians must provide high quality services to clients.  This includes advising them of their options and partnering with them to achieve the best outcomes possible.

  • Health practitioners have a duty to act in the best interests of their clients. Clients often approach dietitians at a time of need for their specialized knowledge and expertise.