Informed Consent: Opt-out versus Opt-in Testing
Opt-out testing means performing an HIV test after notifying the patient that the test is normally performed but that the patient may elect to decline or defer testing. Assent is then assumed unless the patient declines testing. Opt-in testing means testing is offered and the patient is required to actively give permission before it can occur. The CDC recommends opt-out testing policies in health care settings.
Note that opt-out testing does NOT eliminate the need for informed consent, which is required by medical ethics. It also might not eliminate the need to formally document the patient's consent (e.g., by having the patient sign a consent form), since that is governed by state laws and sometimes local hospital policies. For more on written consent forms and HIV testing go to Consent Forms.
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