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What is informed consent?

Whenever you undergo a medical procedure, you have certain legal rights as a patient. Among those is the right to informed consent. When your right to informed consent is violated by a doctor or other healthcare provider and it resulted in harm, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and receive compensation for your injuries.

Here’s what you need to know about informed consent and your rights before undergoing any medical procedure, including what informed consent means, how you can be hurt when your informed consent rights are overlooked, and how to get legal help for your medical malpractice case now.

Your Rights as a Patient

Any time a doctor recommends that you undergo a course of treatment, surgery, or other procedure, one of your most important rights is to have informed consent. Simply consenting to a procedure by “signing on the dotted line” does not meet this standard. Your healthcare provider needs to make sure that you have the relevant facts so that you can make your own decision about the risks and benefits of treatment and how it may affect your life.

At a minimum, your healthcare provider should be providing you with information such as:

  • A differential diagnosis, or list of potential causes of your condition.
  • Why he or she believes treatment or procedure is necessary.
  • A description of the treatment or procedure.
  • The benefits to your health that the treatment or procedure can provide.
  • Any risks involved in the treatment or procedure.
  • The expected outcome of the treatment or procedure.
  • The risks and benefits of not agreeing to the treatment or procedure.

Your healthcare provider should also be willing to discuss any alternative treatment options that may exist—even if your insurance company doesn’t cover them. He or she should be able to discuss the risks and benefits of those alternatives, as well, and provide an explanation for anything you don’t understand. Remember, it’s your own health at stake—if you have a question, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask!

Your doctor has a duty to make sure that you clearly understand the facts without being pressured or coerced into treatment that you don’t want or wouldn’t agree to if you knew the risks.

There are some exceptions to informed consent, in specific circumstances. For instance, if you become unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, the doctor is generally allowed to treat you without informed consent.

When Your Rights Are Violated

If you underwent a treatment or procedure (such as surgery) that left you injured and you don’t feel like you were adequately informed of the risks, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit. To prove your case before the court, though, you and your attorney will have some work to do. Consider the following questions that may be asked by a judge or jury:

  • Before the procedure, did the doctor discuss the risk of the injury you suffered?
  • If you had known about that risk, would you still have undergone the treatment?
  • Did the doctor try to downplay the risk, when it was in fact a likely outcome?

The judge or jury will look at whether or not a “reasonable” doctor of similar training and experience would have discussed the risk of your type of injury with a patient. Your own background and education can come into play, too; if you work in health care, for example, the doctor may not be required to explain as much as he or she would to someone without a medical background.

Get Legal Help Today

If you think you may have a case for an injury caused by a lack of informed consent, a personal injury attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases may be able to help. You could be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, and long-term care, as well as for your pain and suffering.

To find out how you may be able to file your own medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider, Wayne Wright LLP can help you. Contact us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional today.