4.0 Informed Consent for Testing

Posted in: HBV

Informed consent must be obtained for HBV testing.  Exceptions may occur for rare occasions when a legal order is made for compulsory testing or in emergency settings. On these occasions, if informed consent cannot be attained, pre-test provision of all appropriate information to the person should still take place.

Informed consent for testing means that the person being tested agrees to be tested on the basis of understanding the testing procedures, the reasons for testing and is able to assess the personal implications of potential test results. Obtaining informed consent may take more than one consultation.

The person performing the test should use his or her clinical judgment in securing informed consent. Clinical judgment should be based on his or her understanding of the context in which the test is being performed, taking into account:

  • the factors which indicate an urgent need for testing such as clinical presentation, risk exposure, prevalence and individual initiation;
  • an assessment that the person being tested understands the testing process, the implications of the possible result, and how to effectively respond to the diagnosis.

General principles of professional conduct and privacy apply in the case of HBV testing and informed consent. Consent to test should not be sought from sexual partners or family members of the person being tested. In the case of testing children or people who are incapable of giving consent (perhaps due to mental illness or cognitive disability) then the responsibility for consent rests with the guardian or other person or agency legally authorised to make such decisions on the person’s behalf.

People involved in HBV testing must use whatever additional support is necessary to assist the person considering testing to become adequately informed in order to minimise the personal impact of a positive diagnosis, change health-related behaviour and reduce anxiety. Additional support can include access to professional on-site and telephone interpreters and referral to multicultural health services. Health promotion information that is culturally sensitive and language-appropriate should be provided when seeking informed consent and providing results.

When offering testing to patients with low English proficiency, clinicians who do not speak the language of the patient should use an accredited interpreter to maintain equality of health outcomes and to obtain informed consent.Where available, telephone interpreting has a high degree of acceptability to many people because it allows them to maintain anonymity.

There are also publicly funded health interpreting services available in most states and territories.  The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is available to doctors 24 hours a day. TEL: 1300 131 450.


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National HBV Testing Policy v1.2 (PDF)

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Development of this site and the 2014 and 2017 revisions of the testing policies was supported by: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing