Informed consent is one of the most critical aspects of any medical procedure. If you are conscious and not in an immediately life-threatening situation, you have a right to make informed decisions about your body. In this article, trial lawyer Alexander Petraglia explains why it’s essential that your doctor provides you with the correct information to make medical decisions.
Informed consent is a process by which a healthcare professional receives permission from a patient before performing a medical procedure or following a course of treatment. The healthcare provider informs a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives for a potential procedure or treatment so the patient can make an informed choice. The patient must be competent to decide whether to proceed and be given all the relevant information needed to make the decision. Medical practitioners are legally and ethically obligated to provide sufficient information for the patient to provide informed consent.
Medical providers must receive informed consent from their patients because each competent adult has the right to have the final say about the health of their body. Parents shoulder that responsibility for their children.
Doctors and hospitals are obligated to explain in terms understandable to the patient the consequences of proceeding with a medical remedy and the consequences of not moving forward. The patient must also be given information about any alternatives to the suggested treatment.
The purpose of informed consent is to ensure that the patient is not put in a disadvantaged position where they make a decision that they would not have made if the probable consequences were known or if they had been aware of possible alternative solutions. This process protects the patient and the provider.
If the patient was conscious and competent and informed consent was not given, the medical professional may not have met the standard of care required by law.
While the laws vary in each state, a lack of informed consent can generally rise to the level of malpractice if these three legally accepted standards are not met.
- Subjective standard: What would this patient need to know and understand to make an informed decision?
- Reasonable patient standard: What would the average patient need to know to be an informed participant in the decision?
- Reasonable physician standard: What would a typical physician say about this procedure?
If you or someone for whom you are the legal guardian was not provided adequate opportunity to give informed consent before a medical procedure or treatment, and the outcome was unsuccessful or harmful, you should seek legal advice. You have a legal right to be informed about potential side effects and possible alternatives before agreeing to any medical procedure, treatment, or therapy.
The vast majority of medical professionals will always seek informed consent before beginning a medical procedure. It is ingrained in them during their medical training. Sometimes, however, they fail their patients either from neglect or malice, and when they do, the patient is at a disadvantage without legal representation.
About Alexander Petraglia
Alexander Petraglia is a licensed trial attorney dedicated to the vigorous representation of his clients. He currently works at Deters Law Office and has experience in both criminal defense and civil suits. Notably, Mr. Petraglia has completed Gideon’s Promise Trial Program, focusing on perfecting trial advocacy and client care. He gives it his all in every case to protect his clients’ liberty, health, and wealth.