Over $19 Million in Verdicts and Settlements in 2023

The role of informed consent in medical malpractice

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Medical procedures can be complex and often include a degree of risk. Medical care professionals must help you fully understand these risks and be actively involved in helping you make healthcare decisions.

Informed consent is when medical staff provide you with all relevant information regarding a medical procedure, including its potential risks, benefits and alternatives, allowing you to make an educated decision about your treatment. This process not only empowers you but also plays a critical role in the context of medical malpractice.

Here’s what you should know about informed consent and how it could impact a medical malpractice claim.

The essentials of informed consent

Informed consent is a fundamental aspect of the doctor-patient relationship and is legally required in most medical procedures. It serves as a protective shield for patients and ensures that medical professionals uphold the highest ethical standards.

Informed consent involves a clear and detailed explanation by the healthcare provider, typically the treating physician, about:

  • Nature of the procedure: Patients have the right to know what the procedure entails and what it aims to achieve.
  • Potential risks and complications: Care providers must inform patients of the potential adverse outcomes, no matter how rare they may be.

However, achieving a flawless informed consent process can be challenging. Patients may not fully comprehend the medical jargon or the gravity of the risks involved, especially in complex procedures. Additionally, physicians might sometimes underestimate the importance of obtaining informed consent, leading to rushed or incomplete discussions.

Navigating the challenges

Healthcare providers have a challenging job helping patients navigate the process of informed consent. Informed consent should not be a mere formality but a meaningful dialogue between the physician and the patient. Patients should feel comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification until they understand their treatment options.

Informed consent and medical malpractice claims

The significance of informed consent becomes evident when considering potential medical malpractice claims. If a patient can prove that their healthcare provider did not adequately inform them about the risks, benefits or alternatives related to a procedure and that this lack of information resulted in harm, it can be the basis for a medical malpractice claim. In such cases, it is essential to demonstrate that informed consent was lacking and that this failure directly contributed to the patient’s injuries.

Informed consent is not just a legal requirement; it is a critical aspect of patient autonomy and the foundation of the doctor-patient relationship. Understanding the significance of informed consent, its challenges and how it relates to medical malpractice is essential for anyone seeking medical treatment, as it empowers you to make informed decisions about your healthcare and protects your rights.