Types of Healthcare Consent Forms

Healthcare consent forms are a critical component of patient autonomy, transparency, and informed decision-making. Whether it's granting permission for medical treatments, sharing health information, or participating in research, consent forms are essential documents that ensure patients have a clear understanding of their rights and choices.

Read on to learn more about how consent forms are used in healthcare as well as different types of consent. 

What is a consent form in healthcare?

A healthcare consent form is a legal document that outlines a patient's agreement to receive a particular treatment, procedure, or disclosure of their medical information. It acts as documentation that the patient has been adequately informed about their healthcare decisions, allowing them to actively participate in their own care. 

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is a fundamental principle in healthcare that requires healthcare providers to provide patients with relevant information about their condition, proposed treatments, potential risks, benefits, and alternatives. This ensures that patients have a clear understanding of the implications of their decisions and can make informed choices about their care. Informed consent is typically obtained via a consent form.

Basic elements of informed consent 

Requirements for an informed consent form may vary depending on the specifics of the circumstance. Still, most informed consent forms typically include a few common elements to ensure patients have a comprehensive understanding of their medical care:

Explanation of the proposed procedure, treatment, or intervention. Patients should receive a clear and detailed explanation of the purpose, nature, and potential risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment being proposed.

Discussion of alternative options. Patients have the right to be told about alternative treatment options, including their benefits, risks, and potential outcomes.

Opportunity for questions and clarification. Patients should have an opportunity to ask as many questions as needed and feel confident in the answers they receive before providing consent.

Voluntary consent. It is essential to emphasize that consent should be voluntary, without any coercion or pressure from healthcare providers or anyone else. 

Examples of informed consent forms

Authorization for use or disclosure of health information

Healthcare providers may need to share a patient's health information with specialists, insurance companies, or researchers. An authorization for the use or disclosure of health information form grants permission to share or access medical records and  ensures that patients are aware of who will have access to their health information and for what purpose.

Authorization for use or disclosure of photographs/images/films/videos

When healthcare providers require patient photographs, images, films, or videos for these purposes, an authorization for use or disclosure of such media is needed. This consent document ensures that patients understand how their visual or audiovisual information will be used and who may have access to it.

Authorization for use or disclosure of psychotherapy notes

Psychotherapy notes are distinct from general medical records and contain the mental health professional's subjective interpretations of therapy sessions. If a patient wants to authorize the use or disclosure of these notes, a separate consent form is needed. 

Confidentiality agreement for employees/staff/students/volunteers/observers

Healthcare organizations often require employees, staff, students, volunteers, or observers to sign a confidentiality agreement. This agreement reinforces the importance of maintaining patient confidentiality and outlines the consequences of unauthorized disclosure of patient information.

Consent to leave voice or text messages

Healthcare providers may need to contact patients via phone or text messages for appointment reminders, test results, or other relevant healthcare information. Patients may be asked to provide specific consent to allow healthcare providers to leave messages on their voicemail or send text messages.

Consent to online communication

In addition to providing information over the phone, online communication between patients and healthcare providers has become increasingly common. Patients may need to provide consent specifically to receive online communication from their healthcare provider.

Dental procedures

In dental medicine, specific informed consent documents are used to address the unique considerations of dental procedures. These documents outline the specific procedure the patient intends to undergo, potential risks, and alternative treatment options. 

Off-label use of device or prescription drug

Healthcare providers sometimes prescribe medical devices or medications for off-label uses, meaning the treatment is used in a manner not specifically approved by regulatory authorities. In such cases, patients need to be informed that their treatment is considered off-label, including the potential benefits, risks, and alternative treatment options, before providing their informed consent.

Refusal to consent to treatment, medication, or testing

Informed consent encompasses not only the agreement to proceed with treatment but also the right to refuse treatment, medication, or testing. Patients have the autonomy to make decisions about their healthcare, and a refusal consent form officially documents this choice.


To ensure patients understand the unique considerations of telehealth services, a separate telehealth informed consent document may be needed. This consent form addresses potential limitations of remote care, security and privacy measures, and patient responsibilities during telehealth encounters.

Temporary authorization for a minor accompanied by individual not parent/guardian

In cases where a minor is accompanied by someone who is not their legal parent or guardian, healthcare providers may require a temporary authorization form. This form grants the accompanying adult the authority to provide informed consent for medical treatment on behalf of the minor during the specific encounter or period of time.

What is implied consent?

In contrast with informed consent, implied consent is a type of consent that is not explicitly stated or documented but is assumed based on the circumstances and actions of the patient. It is typically inferred from a patient's actions, such as seeking medical treatment or voluntarily disclosing personal health information.

Examples of implied consent

Examining your own medical records

When you request access to your own medical records, it is generally understood that you are granting consent for healthcare providers to disclose your information to you.

Sending your own medical records to another physician

If you want a second opinion or to transfer your care to another doctor, it is typically assumed that you consent to the transfer of your medical records. 

Admitting yourself the hospital and receive treatment

When you voluntarily go to the hospital for medical attention, that implies consent to be admitted as a patient and receive necessary treatment. 

Enrolling yourself as a patient in a clinical trial

If you willingly enroll in a clinical trial after receiving comprehensive information about the trial's purpose, potential risks, and benefits, your participation implies consent for the trial protocol. However, informed consent is still obtained in clinical trials to ensure the protection of participants' rights.

Having blood drawn or other tests

When healthcare professionals need to conduct diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, X-rays, or other medical procedures, your cooperation implies consent based on the understanding that these tests are essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Manage healthcare consent forms with Docusign

Consent forms are among the most vital—and sensitive—documents in the healthcare industry. Ensuring that each form is kept confidential, signed securely, and stored properly can be a daunting undertaking.

Docusign eSignature for Healthcare provides healthcare professionals with the tools they need to ensure patients rights and confidentiality are protected while providing a smoother signing experience. Learn more about Docusign eSignature for Healthcare or read our eBook, Leveraging tech to make your practice patient centric.