Before patients undertake operations or treatments suggested by their doctors, their doctors must tell them about the hazards associated with the planned procedures or treatments. Obtaining informed consent refers to the process of alerting patients about the hazards. A patient injured due to a doctor’s failure to get informed consent or to appropriately warn about the dangers may have grounds to launch a medical malpractice claim. To learn more about what constitutes medical malpractice, speak to an experienced attorney today.
What is informed consent?
Any medical treatment or procedure has some risk. Because of the hazards, doctors must advise patients about the risks associated with their proposed operations so that patients may make fully informed decisions about whether or not to proceed with them. When a doctor delivers this information regarding upcoming treatment, it is referred to as getting informed consent from the patient.
Except when the patient is unconscious or otherwise unable to consent to treatment, doctors usually present patients with consent paperwork to sign that describes the risks of the treatment they have recommended. However, just signing a document does not suggest that the patient has provided informed consent. Instead, physicians usually talk to their patients about the operations they prescribe and explain the dangers so that they understand them before deciding to get the treatments or undertake the procedures.
If a doctor fails to get informed consent from a patient and the patient suffers harm, the doctor may be held accountable for medical malpractice if the patient would not have agreed to the procedure if he or she had been warned about the risks.
Types of risks that must be disclosed
Doctors are not required to mention all dangers. Doctors, however, are expected to describe a specific operation’s significant, known hazards. Two alternative criteria are used to establish whether a clinician should have revealed a certain danger. In many states, the criterion considers whether other doctors with the same education and expertise would have informed the patient of the danger in the same scenario. The criteria employed in some other states are patient-centered. It analyzes whether a reasonable patient in the same scenario would have opted not to undergo the therapy if he or she had been advised of the risk.
In many states, courts assess whether a typical patient with the plaintiff’s health and medical history would have refused treatment if he or she had known the danger that was not disclosed. Doctors must also provide patients with information on other possible treatments, even if they only recommend one.