Consent is a critical legal topic. Consent is what separates a legal sexual act from an act of sexual assault. Consent is also necessary for software and service companies to obtain before collecting and sharing their users’ personal information. This is why you have to sign lengthy terms of service agreements before you can use certain websites and services.
Consent is also a factor at play in medical malpractice cases. Before a patient undergoes surgery or another medical treatment, his or her physician must explain all of the potential risks and side effects of that medical treatment. By acknowledging these risks and agreeing to the treatment, the patient gives his or her informed consent. Often, the patient is asked to sign a form that states that the doctor discussed all potential risks with him or her. Failing to obtain a patient’s informed consent before proceeding with a medical procedure may be considered to be an act of negligence.
When a Patient Needs to Give Informed Consent
Sometimes, the chance of a patient suffering a certain side effect or injury as the result of a procedure are so remote that a doctor does not discuss them with the patient. What determines whether a doctor’s failure to inform a patient about the risks associated with a procedure is an act of negligence or not is whether any other physician could reasonably be expected to make that same choice. In other words, if a potential hazard associated with a procedure is such a remote possibility or has such minor repercussions that the average physician would not discuss it with a patient, one doctor’s failure to inform a patient about it is not a negligent act.
If there is are real, potential risks associated with a medical procedure, the doctor performing the procedure must obtain the patient’s informed consent to move forward with it.
When a patient gives consent to a certain procedure, the doctor may only perform that procedure. A doctor cannot receive consent to one procedure from a patient, then opt to perform a different procedure instead.
Notable Exceptions to Informed Consent
In emergency situations, a doctor does not have to obtain a patient’s informed consent to perform a life-saving procedure. Patients also cannot allege malpractice for these procedures, even if they would not have allowed the procedure under other circumstances. But if an injury occurs because of negligence in the emergency room, the victim may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Doctors can also opt to withhold certain information about procedures from patients who are deemed to be emotionally fragile. For example, if an individual suffers from anxiety and knowing that certain risks associated with a procedure will only have a negative impact on his or her health, a doctor may choose to be vague in his or her description of these risks.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have been hurt because of a healthcare provider’s negligent actions, consider working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to pursue monetary compensation for your damages. To learn more about this process and what you can expect given the circumstances of your case, contact our team at Baizer Kolar, P.C. today to set up your initial legal consultation in our Chicago office. We are a team of collaborative, goal-oriented lawyers who work hard for each and every client.