Why Is Patient Consent So Important?

When you visit the doctor, whether for a check-up or to treat a serious condition, you expect that he or she should provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Going to the hospital can be stressful enough without having to worry that you will leave worse off than you came in. This is one of the main reasons why patient consent, also known as informed consent, is so important.

Generally speaking, obtaining informed consent means that a patient who agrees to undergo a treatment or procedure does so only after being made aware of the associated benefits, risks, and alternative treatments. While there may be a degree of risk involved with any procedure, it is up to the patient to determine if the danger associated with a treatment is acceptable.

Typically, patients are made to sign forms indicating that they understand and consent to a procedure before it can proceed; however, “consent” and “informed consent” can be two very different animals. Even when these forms are signed, if a patient was not given sufficient information regarding a procedure and an injury occurs, that patient may have a medical malpractice case on their hands. Likewise, if a doctor performs a different procedure without informing the patient, a lawsuit may follow.

When Is Informed Consent Required?

The list of possible complications involved in any given procedure can be astoundingly large; however, many of those risks are unlikely and a doctor may only need to inform patients of risks deemed to be relevant, probable, or important. While the exact information a doctor must impart to their patient will vary with each case, a successful claim generally hinges on two aspects:

  • Would a different, reasonably competent doctor have informed the patient about the risk in question?
  • Would a patient with the same medical history have made a different choice if informed about the risk?

There are also several situations where informed consent may not be required, such as in emergencies when there is no time or feasible way to inform a patient of the risks involved. For example, if an unconscious patient is admitted to the emergency room with a life threatening injury and doctors have only minutes to act, patients may not be able to sue for lack of informed consent.

Were You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you believe that you did not provide your informed consent for a procedure and suffered injuries as a result, you may be eligible for compensation through a medical malpractice claim. At Fieger Law, we have an in-depth understanding of these cases and have helped numerous clients in your situation get the justice they deserve. When you need to understand your legal options, contact us immediately and speak with our Michigan medical malpractice attorneys.

Questions about your case? Call (800) 294-6637 today.

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