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Informed Consent – It is Your Responsibility, Too

By October 20, 2016October 22nd, 2018Medical Malpractice
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St. Louis Attorneys Serving Victims of Medical Negligence without Informed Consent

Have you ever heard of “informed consent?”

It’s rather important.

When you receive medical care or treatments from a licensed physician or medical facility, those treating you are required (by law) to provide you with information so that you can give your informed consent. But, what does that mean? What happens if you don’t actually receive informed consent?

Informed Consent by Definition

While the exact definition can take many forms – depending on who you talk to – the basic definition is:

The physician or medical provider is required to tell you (the patient) all of the potential benefits, risks, and any alternatives involved in a medical procedure, treatment, surgery, etc. Then, they must obtain your written consent in order to move forward – after they have presented you with the risks, benefits, and alternatives.

The purpose of informed consent is simple: To make sure that patients know what they are consenting to. Physicians have a moral and legal duty to disclose all necessary information to their patient so that they can make a reasonable decision regarding their own care.

Informed consent isn’t just for the physician – it is the patient’s responsibility, too. So, next we will discuss how informed consent works for the physician, as well as the patient.

The Physician’s Role

The physician or the representative (such as a nurse or hospital administrator) is required to speak to the patient and receive consent. They must discuss the following:

  • The patient’s diagnosis (if it is known)
  • The nature or purpose of the proposed treatment and/or procedure
  • The benefits and risks of the proposal
  • The alternative to that treatment or procedure (if any)
  • The risks and benefits of opting for the alternative procedure
  • The risks and benefits to not consenting for treatment at all

Physicians are also required to ensure that their patients fully understand what is being presented to them. This can be done by asking questions, going over the procedure in detail, etc. They must also ensure that the patient is of sound mind to consent – and conscious, naturally. If a legal representative is signing on the patient’s behalf, then that person must be competent, of legal age, and also fully understand what is being presented to him or her.

The Patient’s Role

While Physicians have a duty, patients have one too.

Do not assume that if a physician doesn’t obtain your consent, you will automatically have a case. In some instances, there could be an assumed consent. So, to protect yourself against this defense, you need to play a role in the informed consent process. As a patient, you must listen to what the medical professional is telling you, ask questions if you do not understand, and get as much information as possible. Once you consent, you are stating that you understand the procedure, risks, benefits, etc.

What if I Never Received Consent?

If you were treated for a condition or received a treatment that you didn’t consent to, you may be entitled to compensation. Physicians have a legal duty to look out for their patients, but also to ensure that patients do not receive treatments that they don’t understand.  If you didn’t suffer injury, you may not have a claim for malpractice. But, if you suffered an injury and never received informed consent, you must contact an attorney immediately.

The medical malpractice professionals at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law are here to help. We understand how complex the malpractice statutes can be, and we want to simplify the process. Schedule a consultation with an attorney now by calling us toll-free at 877-678-3400, or request more information online.