The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Sunday, January 22, 2017

When Lack of Informed Consent Leads to Medical Malpractice

When Lack of Informed Consent Leads to Medical Malpractice

We rely on doctors and other medical professionals to provide us with quality care, as well as all the relevant information about treatments so that we can make choices about our care. In fact, state law requires doctors to obtain a patient's "informed consent" before performing a planned medical procedure such as surgery or special treatment for an illness. If a doctor fails to obtain this consent and the patient is injured as a result of the treatment, there may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

What is informed consent?

A doctor has a legal obligation to provide a patient will all the relevant information about a planned procedure or treatment. This information must be provided in plain language that the patient can understand and include a description of the procedure, risks and potential complications, alternative her treatment options, and the prognosis.

The patient also has a right to ask the doctor questions, and should be given enough time to consider the treatment before making an educated decision. The doctor must obtain the patient's written consent in order to proceed. In addition, a doctor cannot perform additional procedures that the patient has not consented to unless there is a medical necessity or emergency. It is important to note that in emergency situations, particularly when a patient is unconscious, obtaining informed consent may not be required, provided that there is a medical necessity for treatment.

Can lack of informed consent lead to malpractice?

The fact that a doctor failed to obtain a patient's informed consent does not necessarily mean the doctor can be held liable. In order to have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit based on lack of informed consent, it is necessary to demonstrate that

  • the patient would not have consented to a medical procedure that caused an injury had he or she been provided with the right information, or
  • the injury resulting from the procedure was not disclosed as a potential risk.

Proving lack of informed consent is linked to a patient's injury can be complicated. At the same time, there may be other factors that contributed to the injury. In the end, anyone who is injured as a result of a doctor's negligence should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.


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