You’re excited in the days leading up to your medical procedure. You can’t wait to feel your symptoms improve. But instead of feeling better after the procedure, you feel worse. You have an adverse reaction and end up having to go back to the hospital.
You’re frustrated and confused – didn’t your physician say that this was your best bet for recovery?
The doctor must tell you if there are risks involved, and if so, how those risks could affect you. This is what is known as informed consent. If you underwent the procedure but wouldn’t have if you knew the risks, you may have been the victim of medical malpractice.
Carner & DeVita has over 50 years of experience representing injured patients and helping them bring negligent doctors to justice. If you believe you were the victim of a negligent physician or other medical professionals, call our medical malpractice lawyers in Long Island now.
What exactly is informed consent?
Doctors must inform the patient and ensure they fully understand the known risks of a treatment or procedure. This is called informed consent. If the doctor performs the procedure without the patient’s informed consent, they may be subject to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When a patient is informed of the known risks and potential side effects, they can decide whether or not they still want to undergo the procedure. Sometimes, the risks aren’t worth the trouble and could actually make a patient’s condition worse.
Unfortunately, some medical professionals don’t disclose the potential risks of a given procedure. For some patients, this means their condition will worsen, they develop a new condition, or in the worst-case scenario, they pass away.
Physicians usually require patients to sign a consent form detailing the risks of a given procedure, but signing a form doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient gave informed consent. The doctor must personally discuss the risks with the patient, and they must ensure that the patient understands as much as possible how the risks could affect them.
Informed consent is crucial in medical malpractice cases. If a doctor does not obtain informed consent from the patient, and if the patient would not have undergone the procedure had they known of the risks, they may be able to sue the physician on the basis of medical malpractice.
What must doctors disclose about a treatment or procedure?
According to the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics, physicians must disclose the following information for patients to make informed decisions about their treatment:
- The patient’s illness or condition.
- Types of available treatments: How it works, how long treatment lasts, whether or not the patient will have to stop using a certain medication or refrain from certain lifestyle choices, and more.
- Anticipated results and the likelihood of success for the treatment or procedure.
- Recognized possible risks and complications involved in the treatment or procedure.
- If available, recognized alternative forms of treatment (including non-treatment) and their risks.
- Personal and economic interests that may influence the doctor’s judgment.
- Any information that a reasonable person in the patient’s position would find important.
- Benefits or risks that may be significant to the specific patient. For example, any risk of leg injury would be important to a professional soccer player.
- If applicable, disclosure of potential risks of not seeking treatment (See case Truman v. Thomas).
There are several situations where a physician does not have to have informed consent to perform an operation or procedure. According to the Journal of Ethics, these circumstances include:
- An emergency situation where the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting.
- The benefit of treating the patient outweighs any harm that the treatment may present.
- Risks that wouldn’t occur with proper performance (a risk that only results from the doctor botching the procedure).
Call Carner & DeVita Today
It’s extremely difficult for inexperienced attorneys to prove that a physician failed to provide necessary and reasonable information. If you or a loved one were injured by a physician due to their lack of informed consent, you need a lawyer with knowledge and experience to fight for you and represent your interests.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Carner & DeVita have more than five decades of experience holding negligent health professionals accountable for their actions. We’ll represent you and work toward getting you the compensation you need.
Call (631) 543-7070 today to learn more.