The role of informed consent in the veterinary clinic: a case study in companion animal neutering

Gray, Carol Ann (2019). The role of informed consent in the veterinary clinic: a case study in companion animal neutering. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In the UK, professional ethical guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons requires that informed consent is obtained before treatment is given to animal patients. This consent should protect the patient from inappropriate treatment, the client from unexpected costs and the veterinary professional from complaints by evidencing the client’s agreement to proceed. In this thesis, I utilise a socio-legal approach to conceptualise consent in veterinary practice.
Using elective neutering of companion animal patients as a case study, I analyse relevant jurisprudence on informed consent in medicine to illustrate an ideal rooted in the autonomous human patient’s right to choose, or refuse, treatment. Acknowledging the animal patient’s lack of autonomy, I explore parallels with decision-making for young children, which usually incorporate a ‘best interests’ calculation.
Tensions between autonomy and beneficence-based consent are explored via three linked empirical studies, involving analysis of veterinary consent forms, observation of consent consultations and interviews with key participants. Resulting data are interpreted in light of doctrinal research, demonstrating the value of interpretive description as a methodology for socio-legal studies.
Finally, I propose a new model of consent for veterinary practice that recognises the appropriate balance between autonomy and beneficence, together with a re-designed consent form.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Birmingham Law School
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales


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