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The language of consent: do we take or does the patient give?
  1. Simon M Everett
  1. Department of Gastroenterology, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Simon M Everett, Gastroenterology, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK; simon.everett{at}

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Let us start with some gentle debate. Informed consent is a time-consuming process that uses valuable resources. Do you agree? Probably, in private, you will think this way sometimes. Now let us change the words a little. Informed consent is a valuable process that can occasionally be time consuming. What are your thoughts about this? Nodding? Hopefully. The point is that the words we use and the order that we place them in is important. They frame our emotions and reflect our thinking but, moreover, the words we use influence the way that we think.

There are many better than I at disguising their thoughts, using words that are different to those that they are actually thinking. Politicians spring to mind. On the other hand, as the saying goes, if we say something often enough, we start to believe it. The words we use and how we use them matter immensely because they shape the way we perceive the world and participate within it.

So, what has any of this to do with consent? The definition of consent in the Cambridge Dictionary is ‘permission or agreement’ and in law as ‘an act of …

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  • Contributors This is entirely my work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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