Informed consent is an essential part of medical care. Patients have the right to determine what kind of care they get and when. A doctor doesn’t have the power to force you to undergo a procedure that you wouldn’t choose to have if you were aware of all the risks.
To decide what medical care you want, you need to know the dangers of undergoing a certain type of care. Informed consent is the process of understanding the risks and choosing to go forward with a procedure knowing the risks. Our Colorado medical malpractice attorneys explain what you need to know about informed consent in your medical care.
What Is Informed Consent?
Informed consent is when a healthcare patient agrees to a medical procedure after having complete information about the possible risks and outcomes that may result from the procedure. Informed consent is more than just deciding to undergo a procedure.
Instead, it is agreeing to undergo the procedure knowing that there are risks, and knowing that there may be unexpected, undesirable outcomes. Informed consent is going into a medical procedure fully aware of the potential outcomes, risks, and complications associated with the procedure.
What Is Lack of Informed Consent?
A lack of informed consent occurs when a patient receives a medical procedure without being fully aware of what things may happen during the procedure. If a patient wouldn’t have undergone the procedure if they had fully been aware of what problems could result, they had the procedure with a lack of informed consent.
A lack of informed consent is the opposite of informed consent. Lack of informed consent occurs when the patient doesn’t have complete information about the nature and risks of a procedure before receiving it.
Examples of a Lack of Informed Consent
Example 1 – A patient needs surgery on a brain tumor. There is a small chance of stroke from brain tumor surgery. The patient may live another six months without the surgery, but suffering a stroke is immediately fatal. If the healthcare provider doesn’t inform the patient about the possible risk of stroke, the patient would undergo the procedure without giving informed consent.
Example 2 – The patient needs surgery to have their wisdom teeth removed. With wisdom teeth surgery, there’s a small chance that the patient may suffer nerve tissue damage resulting in facial paralysis. The patient chooses to undergo surgery, but the dentist never tells them that facial paralysis is a possibility. The patient did not give informed consent for the operation.
What Does Informed Consent Protect?
Informed consent protects the healthcare provider from legal liability in the event that the patient doesn’t have a good medical outcome. Informed consent also protects the right of the patient to know what the potential outcomes are when they decide whether to have a particular procedure.
Having informed consent procedures protects the patient from suffering an outcome that they aren’t expecting. In turn, it prevents the healthcare provider from legal liability if the patient has unanticipated results from the procedure.
Why Is Informed Consent Important?
Informed consent is necessary because it empowers healthcare patients to make their own choices about their care. They can take control of their healthcare, knowing the risks associated with what they have done. In turn, informed consent protects a doctor when a bad result occurs, and the patient suffers harm.
If the patient knows that the harm is a possibility, the healthcare provider doesn’t have legal liability, as long as they acted in accordance with medical standards of care. Informed consent protects everyone involved with a healthcare procedure.
What Information Must Be Included in an Informed Consent Document?
The information that must be included in an informed consent document consists of the following:
- Name of the patient
- Name of the healthcare provider
- General description of the medical procedure
- The purpose and nature of the procedure
- The likely outcome of the procedure
- Possible and likely outcomes if the patient chooses not to have the procedure
- Alternatives available to the patient
- A statement that the patient understands and that they voluntarily consent to the procedure
All of this information must be included in an informed consent document.
What Are the Two Exceptions to Informed Consent?
The two exceptions to informed consent are emergencies and emotionally fragile patients. In an emergency, a patient may not be conscious. Also, a patient may be conscious, but there may not be time to get consent from the patient before the procedure needs to begin.
On the other hand, there may be a patient who would benefit from the procedure but may not have the emotional state of mind to hear about the risks and possible outcomes. There is an exception to informed consent if the patient’s emotional state would be traumatized by hearing about the risks.
Lack of Informed Consent Lawsuit
A lack of informed consent lawsuit is a lawsuit based on receiving a medical procedure without informed consent. It is a form of medical malpractice lawsuit. When a person receives an adverse outcome in medical care, and they were never properly told of the risks associated with undergoing the procedure, the person can claim compensation for their damages.
The lack of informed consent lawsuit is based on the medical care provider’s legal duty and failure to give the patient information about the risks of having the procedure.
Lack of Informed Consent Cases
Lack of informed consent cases are medical malpractice cases. The healthcare provider always has a legal duty to inform a patient of the risks, so that part of the case is generally proven easily. Then, the victim must show that the healthcare provider breached their duty by not giving the patient the information that a reasonable medical professional would have provided in the same situation.
Even if a lack of informed consent occurs, the patient must have a negative outcome to have a valid legal claim. In other words, there must be damages. The damages that are available to the victim are the same damages that are available in other medical malpractice cases in the state.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
The skilled medical malpractice lawyers at Bachus & Schanker, LLC, have the knowledge and expertise to help if you have been hurt in a medical setting due to a lack of informed consent. We understand how important it is for you to get the compensation you deserve, so you can make the fullest recovery possible. We can help you represent your interests and assert your rights by demanding payment through a medical malpractice case.