Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice

Patients have a right to know and understand any medical procedures a doctor or another medical professional recommends. Before any type of medical procedure, patients must give their informed consent unless they are otherwise unable to do so due to an incapacitation. Here, we want to discuss what informed consent means as well as what happens if a medical professional fails to obtain informed consent before carrying out a procedure.

What Does Informed Consent Mean?

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), patients have the right to “receive information and ask questions about recommended treatments so that they can make well-considered decisions about care.”

The process of informed consent is the process of giving patients the information they need about their particular diagnosis and recommended course of treatment while also allowing them to ask any questions they have before moving forward with the procedure. In situations where a patient cannot give informed consent due to their medical condition or incapacitation, the patient’s surrogate should be the one to participate in the informed consent decisions.

Informed consent involves:

  1. Assessing a patient’s ability to make informed, voluntary medical decisions
  2. Presenting relevant information in an accurate manner, including information about a diagnosis, the purpose of recommended medical interventions, as well as the risks and benefits associated with every option for treatment
  3. Documenting the informed consent conversation and the patient’s or their surrogate’s decision

In emergency situations where decisions must be made quickly, when the patient is not able to participate, or when a patient’s surrogate is not available, physicians can initiate treatment without informed consent. Medical professionals should inform the patient or their surrogate at the earliest available opportunity and obtain further consent before continuing treatment.

Liability for Failing to Obtain Informed Consent

If medical professionals fail to obtain informed consent for a procedure when they otherwise had a duty to do so, it may be possible to hold them responsible for malpractice. Establishing that a medical provider failed to obtain informed consent involves proving the following:

  • The healthcare provider was required to obtain informed consent in the first place
  • The healthcare provider failed to obtain informed consent
  • The patient would not have consented to the procedure if they had been properly informed of the risks and benefits
  • The patient suffered an injury due to the procedure or treatment connected to the lack of informed consent

We strongly encourage any person who believes they have been harmed due to the negligent actions of a medical provider to reach out to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. A medical malpractice lawyer in Louisville can examine the facts of the case and determine whether or not the requirements for informed consent were present. An attorney will help you make a decision about whether or not to move forward with a medical malpractice claim. If you decide to do so and an attorney takes your case, they will file the claim on your behalf and handle every aspect of the process moving forward. This includes the discovery process, continued investigations, negotiations with insurance carriers or legal teams, and moving the case forward to a jury trial.

Ultimately, the goal is to help patients recover the closure and compensation they need for the harm they sustained as a result of the negligent medical professional. Compensation available could include coverage of medical expenses, lost income, as well as pain and suffering damages.

If you have questions, contact us today for a free legal consultation.