What You Need to Know About Informed Consent When Receiving Medical Treatment

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on February 6, 2019  in Medical Malpractice News. Updated on March 2, 2022

doctor consulting with patientBefore undergoing medical treatment, you must be adequately informed about the procedure and any known risks you may face. Only when you provide a health care provider your informed consent to proceed with treatment can he or she actually perform the procedure.

If you a health care provider fails to receive your informed consent and causes you harm, you may have a case for medical malpractice. The at-fault health care provider may be held liable for the physical and financial damages you suffer.

To find out if you have a case against a negligent health care provider, consult with Lynch Law Firm, PC’s experienced medical malpractice lawyers in New Jersey. We understand how to identify medical negligence and will determine if you were adequately informed about your medical procedure before undergoing treatment. Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.

What Is Informed Consent?

“Informed consent” refers to the patient’s acknowledgement that he or she fully understands the type of medical treatment he or she is receiving, and the procedure’s risks. Likewise, the patient must be informed of any alternative treatment that may be available.

Health care providers are legally obligated to ensure patients provide their informed consent when agreeing to be treated for an injury, illness or ailment. This ensure the patient is making a reasonable decision about the type of treatment he or she is undergoing, as well as the potential adverse effects associated with the procedure.

Your health care provider should explain the benefits and drawbacks of a medical treatment before performing it. Informed consent requires that you are told all of the following:

  • Your diagnosis
  • The nature and character of the proposed treatment or surgical procedure
  • The anticipated results from the proposed treatment or surgical procedure
  • The treatment’s anticipated benefits and possible risks or complications
  • The risks and benefits of not undergoing the proposed treatment
  • Recognized possible alternative forms of treatment

Your treating physician has a duty of care to ensure that you know all relevant information. However, this does not mean that a physician must inform you of every possible detail. When determining if you provided informed consent, courts can consider if a reasonably competent physician would have disclosed the information, whether a reasonable patient would have wanted the information and whether you in particular would have wanted the information.

Even if you provide informed consent, you can later withdraw it.

How Far Does the Patient’s Consent Go?

Informed consent applies only to the discussed treatment and does not allow a doctor to perform another type of treatment without first discussing the procedure.

However, there are certain exceptions where informed consent is not required. For example, a doctor may be able to exceed the scope of consent when taking reasonable actions to treat a patient’s condition if his or her life or health is in danger.

Situations Where Informed Consent Does Not Apply

Informed consent is necessary when there is time to make a decision and the doctor and patient can discuss options candidly. There are some situations when informed consent does not apply. This may include:

  • Emergency situations in which the patient is unconscious and treatment is necessary to save his or her life
  • Treatments authorized by law
  • Routine treatments with minimal repercussions, such as standard tests or taking a patient’s vitals
  • Time is of the essence to save the patient’s life
  • The patient is incapacitated by age or disability
  • The patient is emotionally fragile and the patient’s distress will cause him or her to refuse necessary medical treatment

Proving Liability in an Informed Consent Case

To recover compensation from medical malpractice based on a lack of informed consent, you must be able to prove the following legal elements:

  • Your doctor had a legal duty to receive your informed consent before performing the treatment or procedure
  • Your doctor failed to obtain your informed consent
  • You would not have consented to the treatment or procedure if you were aware of all the risks
  • You suffered an injury resulting in damages because of the treatment or procedure

Your lawyer will also work to gather evidence that helps establish your claim. Typical evidence used in medical malpractice cases may include the doctor’s notes, signed medical documents and witness testimony that clarifies if you provided your informed consent.

Contact Lynch Law Firm, PC Today

If you believe that you did not give your informed consent before undergoing medical treatment or a procedure, you may have a medical malpractice claim. However, this can be difficult to determine on your own.

To find out if you have a case, contact Lynch Law Firm, PC’s New Jersey personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. We will provide you a free, no obligation consultation to discuss which options may be available for you to recover compensation.

Our attorneys are skilled investigators and know how to build a case around informed consent. There are no upfront fees and you only pay us if we successfully recover compensation for you.

Call (800) 518-0508 to learn more.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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