Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Role of the consent form in UK veterinary practice
  1. Carol Gray
  1. School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carol Gray; cagray008{at}


Background Informed consent from the client is required before veterinary professionals may administer treatment or perform surgery on an animal patient, except in an emergency. This study investigates the potential role(s) of the consent form in the consent process in the UK.

Methods Thematic analysis was carried out on the text contained in 39 blank consent forms sourced from veterinary practices in the UK. Analysis was conducted at the levels of topical survey and thematic summary.

Results Consent forms were used to authorise procedures, to define proposed treatment, to offer or recommend additional procedures, to convey the risks of treatment and to document the client’s financial obligations. None of the forms analysed provided sufficient space to document the accompanying conversation. Notable omissions from the submitted forms included options for treatment and benefits of treatment.

Conclusions The consent form acts as a record of the procedure to be performed, the associated costs and the status of the person giving consent. However, from this analysis, it often fails to record the detail of the consent discussion, an essential part of the consent process. A proposal for an improved version of a veterinary consent form is provided.

  • informed consent
  • consent forms
  • veterinary medicine
  • veterinary clinics

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Twitter @vetconsent

  • Presented at An earlier version of this paper was presented at the LJMU Animal Law, Ethics and Policy conference on 11 September 2019

  • Funding This study was funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ES/T009136/1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the University of Birmingham Humanities and Social Sciences Ethical Review Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Data (anonymised consent forms) are available from the author ( on reasonable request.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.