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INFORMED CONSENT: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE?

In many instances where medical care or treatment is being provided to an individual, health care professionals are required to obtain the patient's "informed consent." Although the precise definition of informed consent may vary from state to state, the term essentially means that the patient has made a knowing decision about a surgical procedure after a doctor or other health care professional provides the patient with all information a reasonably prudent medical provider would give to patients regarding the risks associated with the proposed procedure. Patients may sue for the lack of informed consent when they have not been made aware of risks associated with their proposed procedure. To recover on this theory, patients must also prove that post-surgery, they suffer from one of the unexplained risks.

A well-written informed consent form should include:

  • Identification of the physician or surgeon who'll be performing the medical procedure
  • The physician or surgeon's qualifications
  • The patient's present medical condition
  • The purpose of the proposed procedure
  • The risks involved in the procedure
  • The alternatives, including their risks, including non-treatment if that is an option
  • The chances of the procedure's success
  • The expected length of recovery time
  • The approximate cost of the procedure and whether it will likely be covered by your health insurance

Situations exist where doctors are not required to obtain informed consent from their patients. The most common example involves life-threatening emergencies where the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated and in need of immediate treatment. Moreover, because the doctrine of informed consent applies only to surgical procedures, this principle is not applicable to the administration of drugs, intravenously or otherwise.

When a patient suffering from a non-life-threatening condition cannot give informed consent due to unconsciousness or mental disability, medical personnel will sometimes ask a court to appoint a guardian to make informed consent decisions for that patient. Furthermore, parents can generally give informed consent for their minor children.

You are entitled to complete information about the surgical procedures you will undergo. Failure to provide such information can subject the healthcare providers to legal liability. If you believe that you may have a claim based on the lack of informed consent, contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Rosen Louik & Perry, P.C. at once for a free consultation.

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