Understanding Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice
One of the overlooked aspects of medical care is that a patient must consent to any care they receive. This is referred to as informed consent. Informed consent means that the patient was advised of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the procedure and, knowing these, made the decision to undergo the procedure. A physician can be legally liable where he or she fails to obtain a patient’s informed consent before performing a medical procedure. Indiana Model Civil Jury Instruction 1527 defines "informed consent" as follows: "A patient must consent to the treatment or she receives. A patient’s decision to undergo a particular treatment must be an informed choice.Health care providers must tell a patient the important facts about possible treatments. Before making a choice, a patient has a right to know the nature of a proposed treatment, other available treatments, and the risks involved."
The reason informed consent is so important is because it is the patient's decision (not the healthcare provider's) as far as what happens to them. Of course physicians give us their opinions and give us their recommendations because they are the experts; but ultimately it is patient that makes the decision about their healthcare. Also, physicians providing medical services can not delegate to staff members the task of obtaining consent from patients for major medical procedures or surgery.
When a patient is not informed of the risks or alternatives to a treatment, surgery or drug, they may have a claim against the healthcare provider. The essence of one of these types of claims is that the healthcare provider deprived the patient from making their own decision and caused harm. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice and/or deprived of informed consent, be sure to contact a knowledgeable and skilled attorney who can provide you with informed legal representation.