Medical Malpractice — When You Do Not Have All the Facts
A Failure of Informed Consent
It is your doctor's job to make sure you understand the reasons for a test or procedure and the associated risks. If your doctor says an operation is necessary, he or she should also tell you why and explain the dangers as well as the benefits. Doctors also need to tell you what you need to do-and what to look for-after a procedure. Some of the most serious injuries I've seen happen because a patient doesn't realize the significance of pain and other symptoms that happen while they're recovering.
What Is Lack Of Informed Consent, Exactly?
Failure to get informed consent means a doctor, physician, surgeon, or other medical professional, performs a procedure on you without properly explaining the risks or benefits so that you can make an informed decision. Sometimes, too, a medical provider fails to inform a patient about the scope of the procedure. The law considers this to be a battery, just as if someone harmfully touched you without permission.
In my view, informed consent extends to post-procedure injuries as well. The failure to inform a patient of proper care and potential risks following a procedure is medical malpractice. If you don't know how to take care of yourself after a surgery or the dangers that particular signs and symptoms indicate, the doctor has fallen down on the job. Often, right after surgery, a patient doesn't know much about what's going on. Putting a printed sheet in the patient's hand-if it even gets home with her-isn't going to help much if there's something important she needs to know. So a doctor needs to make sure that the information is communicated to a responsible person.
Signed Waivers and the Test For Informed Consent
It's your doctor's job to make sure that you understand the risks laid out in an informed consent form or in a release document. Even if you sign a document that claimed to be an assurance that you understood everything, what happens if you didn't know what you were signing? If you were injured because medical professionals didn't effectively communicate what you needed to know, I may be able to help you.
Unlike the legal test for misdiagnosis and failure to treat, which almost always requires expert testimony, the standard for informed consent is what a "reasonable and prudent person" would want to know. The test is not what a doctor would want to know or what doctors typically tell patients, but what you needed to know in order to make good decisions. If you are hurt because you weren't informed that you needed a certain test or procedure, or didn't recognize a danger that you should have been informed about, let's talk about it.
If you feel that you, or a loved one, has been a victim of medical malpractice, speak with a lawyer.
Call my office to set up a free consultation. You may also contact me online.