What Is Informed Consent?
There are many different factors which can impact a medical malpractice case. From the actions of the doctor to their failure to act, from the negligence of the patient to preexisting health conditions, it is important to allow a legal representative to examine every aspect of your case before you file your claim. You need to be aware of the fact the hospital's attorneys will do everything in their power to prove that they should not have to pay compensation for what happened. Due to this fact, the victim needs to do everything on their part to strengthen their case by investigating all of the relevant evidence. One such piece of evidence which can be crucial in a malpractice case is that of informed consent.
What exactly is informed consent and why is it so important? Informed consent is basically what it sounds like: it is the patient giving their permission for a medical procedure or treatment after receiving all of the information they need to make that decision. Many types of surgeries involve some level of risk. Medicine is not an exact science and there is no way to predict how a patient will respond to a specific treatment. Patients must be made aware of the possible risks they could be left dealing with before they are able to give their consent. Also, just because a patient signed a consent form does not mean they are left without rights. If the doctor failed to thoroughly explain the procedure to them before they give consent, this is an informed consent violation.
If you were the victim of medical malpractice and believe that it is due to a violation of this kind, there are questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if you have a strong case. When a doctor failed to disclose a certain serious side effect or other health hazard before a test, treatment, or surgery, how will you be able to know if this constitutes malpractice or not? First of all, would other doctors in the same situation have known about the risks and made the patient aware of them? Under law, malpractice can be proven if the doctor owed the patient a duty of care and they provided treatment that fell below the generally accepted standard of care. Another way of telling if the risk should have been disclosed is if the risk had a high likelihood of actually occurring. Doctors are not required to make known every side effect that could possibly occur, however, if there was a high possibility that it would occur, they could be found negligent.
In the states which do not operate under the guidelines given above, they will instead examine if the average patient would have made a different decision if the risks had been disclosed. It is also important to realize that there are exceptions to the requirement of first receiving informed consent before beginning treatment. First is if it is an emergency situation. When physicians are acting quickly, trying to save a patient's life, there is no time to first secure informed consent. Another situation in which there could be an exception to informed consent is when doctors are dealing with emotionally fragile patients. If they are already dealing with a serious illness, doctors may be vague when describing the possible risks of treating the illness. Whatever your situation, whether your doctor failed to notify you of the risks or performed a different surgery than the one you had given consent for, you should get in touch with our team at the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, PC to learn how we could help you.
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