Many medical procedures or treatments require the informed consent of the patient. States have different exact definitions of informed consent, but the concept generally requires medical professionals to give a patient the details of any medical procedure, surgery, or treatment. This includes a description of potential alternatives or risks as well as benefits. If you did not receive this information or did not give written consent to a course of treatment, you should consult with an attorney to explore whether you have a valid malpractice claim.
The principle of informed consent rests on the idea that every person has the right to determine how they should be treated. Therefore, doctors and other medical professionals are required to explain their actions and disclose all necessary information to patients so that an informed decision can be made. The failure to seek and obtain informed consent can lead to liability for negligence.
Your physician is the person best positioned to obtain your informed consent, because they generally know the issues at hand better than other professionals. Your physician should cover:
- Your diagnosis
- The proposed procedure or treatment and its chances of success
- The risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as any alternatives and their risks and benefits
- The prognosis if no action is taken
Your physician should also ensure that you understand this information. You should hear about any alternative, regardless of cost or insurance coverage. You or an authorized representative must sign any informed consent documents and receive a copy. Patients are also responsible to listen carefully and make clear when they do not understand a procedure or its risks and benefits.
Informed consent is a vital part of the health care process. If you believe that you did not give informed consent to a procedure, or that your health care organization failed to obtain informed consent from a patient, you should immediately contact an attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases.