What to Know About Informed Consent

Doctor explaining the results of a test to her patient

When you schedule a doctor appointment, it is assumed that you will consent to a  physical exam, particularly if you are ill. However, a doctor can not perform invasive tests or surgical procedures without what is called informed consent. Under informed consent, a patient is entitled to learn about the benefits and risks of recommended medical procedures so that he or she can make informed decisions. They may choose to go ahead with the procedure or opt for an alternative, but the patient must have a solid understanding of what to expect.

When a patient undergoes a test or procedure without their consent, and they are injured in the process, they may be able to sue for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice may also apply if the doctor discusses one procedure, but performs a totally different procedure on the patient, even if the procedure was successful. Read on to learn more about informed consent and its legal
ramifications.

What is Informed Consent?

Informed consent is based on the premise that a patient has the right to make his or her own healthcare decisions. This is best done through informed consent, which describes the risks and benefits of the test or procedure thoroughly. Informed consent also provides the patient with alternatives so that he or she can make the right choice. If the patient agrees to the procedure, he or she will need to provide written consent as proof that the patient allows the procedure to be performed.

The patient has the ability to ask questions and get them answered in a timely manner.

When is Informed Consent Not Required?

There are exceptions to the rule. There are two main situations in which informed consent is not required:

Emergency Situations

In a medical emergency, immediate medical care is often needed to prevent further harm or even death. In these situations, there is no time to obtain consent from the patient, and as such, it is not required. This may apply if the doctor is already performing a procedure and finds another medical issue during the process. The doctor has the right to fix the medical issue without the patient’s consent.

Incompetence:

If someone is unconscious or otherwise mentally or physically unable to give or refuse consent, then informed consent does not apply. The medical professional can perform the tests or procedures that are deemed fit based on the situation. This also applies if the patient is emotionally fragile or extremely anxious and may not make the right decision based on his or her emotional state.

Work with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

A doctor must obtain informed consent from a patient in most circumstances. If a medical professional performs a test or procedure on a patient without consent, it may result in a medical malpractice case, particularly if the patient is injured.

If you or a loved one underwent a medical procedure even though no consent was given, it is important to seek legal help. The medical malpractice attorneys at Peters Berger Koshel & Goldberg, P.C. can help you understand your legal rights. Schedule a free consultation by calling our office at (800) 836-7801.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *