Unauthorized treatment or lack of informed consent

Informed consent is the consent by a patient to a surgical or medical procedure or to their participation in a clinical study after being provided all of the necessary information and having achieved an understanding of the relevant medical facts and the risks involved. Any surgery, medical procedure, or participation in a clinical study without “informed consent” may be considered unauthorized treatment.

So, in other words, were you given all the relevant information about surgery or some other medical procedure or clinical study? Was the information you were given in an easy to understand language and in sufficient amount so that you could make an informed decision on how to proceed? You should never have to find yourself in the position of saying, "If only I'd just known, or understood what I was being told, things would have turned out differently."

Black's Law Dictionary states that "consent is an act of reason, accompanied with deliberation, the mind weighing as in a balance the good or evil on each side."

Whereas many people are not aware that they have a legal right to receive information about their medical condition, treatment choices, risks associated with the treatments, and their prognosis, they also do not realize they must also be able to understand the information provided to them. Children and the mentally ill oftentimes are unable to provide informed consent and another person is authorized to give consent for them. This other person must then be provided all of the necessary information in a manner to which they can understand and be "informed" in order to give consent.

Additional examples where informed consent may not be possible to provide by an individual:

  • basic intellectual or emotional immaturity
  • high levels of stress such as PTSD
  • severe mental retardation
  • severe mental illness
  • intoxication
  • severe sleep deprivation
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • being in a coma

If you, as a patient, have received all of the necessary information and understand all of the aspects as it pertains to you and your well-being, any consent to treatment that is given will be presumed to be an "informed consent." A doctor or other caregiver who fails to obtain informed consent for non-emergency treatment may be charged with a civil and/or criminal offense such as a "battery" or unauthorized touching. To be successful in bringing an informed consent case against a doctor, you must usually show that, had you known of the risk or outcome which was not disclosed, that you would not have opted for the treatment or procedure and thus avoided the risk. Basically, you must show there was a harmful consequence.

If you feel there was a lack of informed consent, thereby resulting in unauthorized treatment, that resulted in harm to you or a loved one, please contact us at Sweeney Law Firm and let us review your case. The initial consultation is free. The Sweeney Law Firm works on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a settlement or recovery of funds.