What is informed consent and why is it important?

Categorized: General

What is informed consent and why is it important?

Before a patient chooses to undergo a surgery, a procedure or treatment option (or chooses the lack thereof), the patient has the right to know the risks of his or her choice. This is known as informed consent, and when the patient does not give it, and harm from the medical treatment results, a medical malpractice claim may be pursued.

Understanding Informed Consent

Nearly all medical procedures and treatments involve a small amount of risk. Whether it’s a surgery, a type of medication, or even an x-ray, there is usually risk involved. As such, it is imperative that a patient is informed of this risk prior to giving his or her consent for the treatment, test, procedure, etc.

Who handles telling a patient of risks?

A doctor, surgeon, or healthcare professional handles informing a patient of known risks of a procedure or treatment option. When these risks are not disclosed, the healthcare professional is in violation of the duty of care that he or she owes the patient. Furthermore, when a patient is unaware of risks, he or she is unable to give his or her informed consent to a procedure, even if he or she gives his or her consent. It is imperative to note the distinction between the two terms.

What risks must be disclosed?

Medical professionals are not required to disclose all risks associated with a procedure to a patient. However, they are required to disclose those risks that are both known and that are deemed to be pressing or significant.

There are two ways in which a doctor can assess whether or not disclosing a risk is pressing or important. These are also the ways in which a court will determine whether or not a doctor’s failure to disclose a risk was an act of negligence.

First, if the disclosure of the risk would have resulted in an ordinary patient making a different decision about whether or not to undergo the procedure, then the risk must be disclosed.

Second, if a healthcare professional in the same circumstance, and who is of reasonable and ordinary prudence, would have disclosed the risk, then the risk must be disclosed.

Uninformed Consent and Harm from a Medical Procedure

If you were fully aware of the risks of a procedure and made the choice to pursue that method regardless and were injured, then the doctor who performed the procedure will likely not be held liable. However, if you were not fully aware of the risks associated with a system and made the choice to pursue that process and were harmed, then you can file a claim for medical malpractice.

How an Attorney Can Help

A medical malpractice attorney can help you to prove that the doctor in question acted negligently by failing to inform you of the risks of a procedure. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our attorney will also advocate for a fair settlement on your behalf, gather evidence, and recruit experts to testify in support of your claim. To schedule a consultation today, call 215-642-2335 now.

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