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RMTs need to obtain informed patient consent to treatment, as this supports good clinical decision-making, patient safety, and predictable and desired outcomes. Obtaining consent is both a professional and legal obligation.

Section 9 of the College’s Code of Ethics requires RMTs to obtain informed consent for therapeutic services. Under section 8 of the Code of Ethics, RMTs must provide complete and accurate information to enable the patient to make an informed decision regarding the need for, and nature of, therapeutic services. This includes providing understandable answers to any questions that the patient may have.

In addition to these professional obligations, there are two BC statutes that set out legal requirements for patient consent. The Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act (HCCCFAA) defines the scope and elements of consent for adults (individuals aged 19 and older). The HCCCFAA sets out the requirement for RMTs to seek consent for massage therapy treatment as well as the patient’s right to give or refuse consent to health care, and also addresses the manner in which consent is obtained and exceptions to consent requirements. The Ministry of Heath has published a guide to the HCCCFAA (PDF).

The Infants Act sets out the requirements for obtaining consent from a minor or “infant” (legally defined as an individual under the age of 19 years). The Infants Act defines the conditions under which infants (minors) are legally able to consent to their own medical treatment. The registrant must:

  1. Explain the nature, consequences, and the reasonably foreseeable benefits and risks of the health care, and be satisfied the patient understands these; and
  2. Make reasonable efforts to determine, and conclude, that the health care is in the minor’s best interests.

There is no set age at which infants can consent to their own medical treatment. Registrants must use their best judgment to determine whether an infant is capable of providing consent.

If the infant is capable of providing consent, his/her medical information must be kept confidential under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) and cannot be disclosed to anyone, including parents or legal guardians, unless the infant consents to disclosure, or disclosure is allowed under PIPA. If the infant is incapable of providing consent, the RMT must obtain consent from the parent or legal guardian.

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