What Does “Informed Consent” in Relation to Medical Malpractice Mean?
“Informed consent” in relation to medical malpractice means doctors must tell patients about the risks of a medical procedure. For instance, if a patient is undergoing surgery to correct their eyesight, the doctor must discuss the potential complications of such a procedure with the patient beforehand. If the doctor fails to get informed consent and the patient gets injured, the patient can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor.
Like most aspects of medical malpractice law, informed consent is not always cut and dry. In certain situations, doctors do not need to get informed consent. In some cases where they must obtain informed consent, they do not have to go over every single inherent risk, only those deemed significant.
If you suffered injuries your doctor failed to warn you about, you might have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. A medical malpractice attorney can review your situation, let you know if you have a winnable case, and help you figure out the best way to file for malpractice so you can recover the compensation you deserve.
We offer free consultations and would love the opportunity to evaluate your case and answer any questions you might have. To schedule an appointment, call us at 1-855-MED-ASKS.
What Are the Requirements for Informed Consent?
Patients have the right to know what risks they are facing before agreeing to undergo any medical treatment. The responsibility to inform patients of these risks falls on the treating physician. This is the informed consent requirement.
Many doctors use consent forms as a way to show they are complying with informed consent laws. Before the procedure, the patient receives a checklist detailing the possible risks and complications that could arise. The patient must sign the consent form before the doctor goes forward with the procedure.
Even if you sign such a form, the doctor cannot use this fact alone to prove compliance with the informed consent law. The doctor must go over the risks with you and make sure you understand them rather than simply asking for a signature.
To win a medical malpractice case based on informed consent, we must demonstrate that the doctor did not sufficiently explain the risks to you and that you would have opted out of the procedure had you known about the dangers.
How Can I Prove the Doctor’s Liability Due to Informed Consent?
Doctors do not always need to disclose or discuss every single risk associated with a procedure. They may not mention minor risks or side effects, like temporary itching or redness at a surgical site. Our case hinges on proving the significance of the risks not disclosed or explained to you.
To demonstrate that your doctor failed to inform you of a significant risk, we will gather evidence, including medical data and expert witness testimony. Our goal is to show two things:
- Other doctors in a similar situation would have disclosed the risk to you; and
- The risk was significant enough that you would have made a different decision if you had known about it.
To prove that a typical, competent doctor would have disclosed the risk, we often solicit testimony or a statement from an expert witness—or multiple expert witnesses—within the medical community.
For the second condition, we often must gather patient data and other medical evidence to make our case. We can also determine if the doctor offered you any alternative treatment options that could have addressed your condition without the same risks. Many states require doctors to provide such options when they are available.
Does Informed Consent Apply in Emergency Situations?
Doctors are typically exempt from informed consent rules in emergencies. These situations are often too urgent to sit the patient down and explain the risks of a procedure, particularly if beginning treatment right away could mean the difference in the patient living or dying.
However, doctors must still uphold the standard of care in emergency situations. If you feel you received substandard emergency treatment, our attorneys can help you determine if the doctor committed malpractice.
How Can I Reach an Attorney to Discuss My Case?
If you have questions or want to sit down face-to-face and discuss your situation with a lawyer, the legal team at Newsome Melton can help. Our attorneys focus on medical malpractice cases. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 1-855-MED-ASKS.
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