In medical malpractice litigation, the issue of informed consent is often contentious. A lack of informed consent to a medical procedure or surgery can itself form the basis of a medical malpractice claim by a patient against a physician or medical care provider.
Essentially, informed consent involves a discussion(s) between the patient and physician about the proposed medical surgery, test or procedure, and includes the physician advising the patient of the nature of the procedure and the risks and benefits of the procedure, as well as all information that a “reasonable person” would want to know before providing his or her consent to the procedure. The patient will then usually be asked to sign a consent form prior to the medical procedure.
In addition to disclosing material risks, courts have held recently that physicians also owe a duty to their patients to disclose all other material information respecting the surgery, such as the availability of alternative treatments to the surgery which is being proposed, or an explanation of any surgical devices or techniques.
To be successful in a medical malpractice claim, a patient must establish that had a reasonable person been properly informed of the material risks and information, that he or she would not have consented to the procedure. The issue of lack of informed consent is usually stronger in elective surgeries versus emergency surgeries.
Given the law of informed consent, a patient should not hesitate in asking questions of the physician to ensure that he or she has all of the material information necessary to provide informed consent. Inform yourself about informed consent! If you believe that you underwent surgery without providing informed consent, and suffered personal injury, we are here to help.