Failure to Get Informed Consent: How it Might be Medical Malpractice

Obtaining patient consent is an important part of medical procedures. This is especially true when those procedures are complex or serious in nature. When a doctor fails to get consent from a patient, and the patient is harmed during the procedure, this may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

In this post, we’ll briefly describe what informed consent is and what happens if a doctor fails to obtain it from a patient. 

Informed Consent 

Before a doctor performs a medical procedure on a patient, he or she must get informed consent from that patient. In other words, there should be a clear agreement from the patient for the doctor to proceed. There are a few exceptions to this. Notably, if it’s an emergency situation. 

Part of the informed consent process could look like: 

  • Clearly stating the potential benefits and risks of the procedure. 
  • Providing brochures or other literature about the procedure. 
  • Allowing a patient to ask questions, and then providing them with clear answers. 
  • Explaining any alternative treatment options, if they exist. 
  • Giving a patient time to discuss their options with their family, or to seek a second opinion. 

Typically, a patient will sign a consent to treat form. If the patient is a minor or otherwise incapable of making an informed decision, a parent or legal guardian should be responsible for signing any form.

Failure to Get Informed Consent 

We’ve talked about what informed consent looks like. But what does it look like if a doctor fails to get informed consent? 

Failure to get consent could look like a few different things: 

  • Withholding information about alternative treatment options. 
  • Downplaying or omitting risks to a patient. 
  • Obtaining consent from a patient who is mentally uncapable of making a decision. 
  • Failure to obtain signed consent form. 
  • Performing medical procedure on minor without their parent or legal guardian’s consent. 

Clearly, this can become a real problem if the patient experiences negative side effects that they hadn’t been warned of.

Is it Medical Malpractice? 

Failure to get informed consent can be medical malpractice, under the right circumstances. 

Here are a few questions to consider: 

  • Would another doctor have done differently in the same situation? In other words, was there a standard of care that wasn’t followed? 
  • Would the patient have made a different decision about their care had they been properly informed of the potential risks? 
  • Was the patient harmed as a result of the procedure? 

It’s important to understand that not every medical error falls under the category of malpractice. And, even if it is malpractice, not every injury lawyer may accept your case.

Call a Lawyer Today – it’s Free.

The best way to know if you have a medical malpractice case is to reach out to an injury lawyer. It’s always free to speak with a lawyer from our team, just to learn what your options may be. 

Please contact us for a case review today.

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Angela Russell
Articles: 73

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