According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 10 patients in developed nations is injured while receiving hospital treatment. An important part of avoiding medical mistakes and keeping patients safe is ensuring that patients understand their diagnosis and treatment plan before agreeing to proceed. This article will explore what informed consent is, when exceptions apply, and how mistakes can lead to medical malpractice.
Defining Informed Consent
Consent simply means a patient agrees to what a doctor proposes for action in a medical situation. Legally, informed consent protects a patient’s right to understand her diagnosis and treatment plan in language she can understand—thereby setting her up to make an informed decision and preventing an incident of medical malpractice. To consent, a doctor or other medical professional may ask you to:
- Nod in agreement
- Verbally agree
- Sign a consent form
However, two exceptions exist within consent law. A doctor is not required to obtain a patient’s consent if she in unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent, and a doctor is not required to obtain consent if the benefits of a treatment far outweigh the potential disadvantages. In these cases, a doctor must perform a treatment or procedure as soon as possible.
Failing to Obtain Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice
Determining whether or not failure to obtain informed consent is a factor leading to your injury and, therefore, your medical malpractice case, can be tricky. The following are important questions in identifying problems with informed consent:
- With different information, would you have still consented to a treatment?
- Was the injury you sustained one of the risks the doctor disclosed to you before treatment?
- Would other doctors with similar experience and in a similar situation have disclosed the risk for a specific injury?
- Were you informed of alternative treatments?
- Did the doctor inform you of both the benefits and disadvantages of a certain treatment?
- Did a doctor make a risk seem less common, when in reality it is common?
- Was a doctor’s verbal explanations different from descriptions on the consent form?
When You Need Trusted Legal Help
Serious injuries can result if a doctor fails to comprehensively inform a patient of his treatment plan. If you believe you were injured as a result of a doctor failing to obtain proper, informed consent, you may have many questions. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher is here to answer them and walk you through your medical malpractice case. To speak with an attorney and learn more about what the details of your case mean, reach out to us by starting a live online chat today.