The concept of informed consent specific to medical research and treatment is still alien to many medical researchers and practitioners and to millions of Indians. The doctor-patient relationship in India is governed more by trust where the doctor is the authoritative person. Therefore, the benefit of informed consent does not reach all patients in day-to-day medical practice. To complicate the issue, the Indian law is not specific about the age at which a person can give valid consent. The Indian Penal Code is silent about the legal validity of consent given by persons between 12 and 18 years of age. Similarly, the age at which the 'Right to Confidentiality' begins is yet to be defined either by the statute or by the courts. Hence, there is a need for a clear statutory provision to remove the anomalies and ambiguities regarding the age of consent to undergo invasive therapeutic or investigative procedures, participate in clinical trials, as well as define the age at which a person's right to medical confidentiality begins.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.