Medical malpractice can happen when medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers fail to treat patients in accordance with the accepted standard of care. The healthcare industry is incredibly broad, so substandard care can take many forms. While many people associate medical malpractice with surgical errors or prescription errors, it can also happen when doctors perform specific treatments without a patient’s permission.
WHAT IS INFORMED CONSENT?
All patients must give consent to their treatment, and health care providers must ensure the patient provides this permission with full knowledge of any potential positive and negative effects of the procedure. When doctors fail to obtain permission and administer treatment, they can face administrative or even criminal consequences for their negligence. Likewise, when that negligence results in the patient’s injury, the victim might have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice case.
Before a treatment occurs, a patient must give their informed consent, which means they fully understand the consequences of the medical care. Getting written consent, or express consent, is common prior to surgery; however, express consent doesn’t mean the patient provides their informed consent. For example, if the patient doesn’t speak or read English, and the doctor fails to inform them verbally of the potential risks, the patient isn’t giving informed consent when signing the form.
The only exceptions to the patient consent rule are when the doctor is pressed by an emergency medical situation, or the patient is emotionally fragile. For example, if the doctor is an urgent care physician and must perform a medical treatment to save your life, you don’t need to give your informed consent before they treat you, particularly if you’re unconscious through the ordeal. Likewise, patients who might refuse a life-saving drug or treatment out of fear might not be informed of the potential consequences if the doctor predicts the patient will refuse without good reason.
INFORMED CONSENT VIOLATIONS
Patient consent violations usually fall into two categories:
- Failure to identify: While informed consent does not mean that every possible complication that could occur be described, as that would be unreasonably long, it does require that patients be informed of the most well-known complications that are associated with their procedure.
- Failure to adequately describe risks and complications: In this situation a risk may have been brought up, but the actual severity or likelihood of a complication was not adequately described. For informed consent to be properly given a given complicated or risk must be accurately described.
No doctor can be expected to foresee every possible difficulty; but if other people have experienced adverse complications before, they are required to describe them to future patients. Likewise, a failure to describe on paper accurately what will happen might lead to a medical malpractice case.
GET STARTED ON YOUR CASE TODAY
If you need help pursuing legal action against a negligent doctor, talk to one of our attorneys about your case as soon as possible. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping the victims of personal injury recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Let us help you hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.