No matter the type of medical care, a patient always has the right to receive information and ask questions before undergoing treatment. Communication with a medical professional allows the patient to make decisions about their own health care. It educates the patient about risks, benefits, and alternative treatment options. It gives the patient the chance to voice concerns and gain a fuller understanding of medical terms and concepts they may not be familiar with. Informed consent is a fundamental component of any successful patient-physician relationship.
A health care provider has a legal and ethical obligation to facilitate this exchange of information prior to testing or treatment. If you visited a health care provider and there was no process of informed consent prior to your procedure, you may have faced an instance of medical malpractice.
If you were injured through a procedure you were not given the opportunity to agree to, you have legal options. A medical malpractice lawyer from Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law can sit down and discuss your options with you. Your right to give informed consent may have been taken from you in a health care setting, but our attorneys will make sure your voice is heard through every step of the legal process.
What Is Informed Consent in Health Care?
In its most basic form, informed consent is when a doctor explains a procedure and the patient agrees to it. But more than a simple transaction, informed consent is a process of collaborative communication between a patient and a health care provider. The patient learns about treatment options through this process and gives thoughtful approval to undergo a specific medical procedure.
Before the patient (or their designated representative, if the patient lacks or refuses decision-making capacity) gives authorization, there must be an opportunity for discussion. This is the “informed” part of informed consent. Before giving consent, a patient needs to be able to completely understand the medical intervention, its risks, and any possible alternatives.
In obtaining informed consent from a patient, the physician needs to:
- Convey all information about the procedure accurately
- Convey information in a way that the patient can understand
- Be sensitive to the needs and preferences of the specific patient
- Assess and adapt to the patient’s ability to understand the information
- Document the informed consent conversation and its outcome
By the end of the informed consent conversation, the patient must have a thorough understanding of certain points regarding their condition, testing, and treatment. The physician has a duty to ensure that the patient walks away with accurate knowledge about:
- Their diagnosis and current medical condition
- The nature and purpose of the recommended procedure
- What happens during the procedure
- Alternative procedures to the one advised
- The risks associated with all options
- The expected benefits of all options
- Possible side effects that could arise after the procedure
- The expected outcome if they choose not to undergo any procedure at all
- Any other medical information relevant to their condition and treatment
The goal is that, through the course of the discussion, the patient will be able to make an educated and voluntary decision regarding their own medical care.
Why Is Informed Consent Important?
There are no certainties in medical care, only probabilities. There are specific risks, even minor ones, involved in every form of medical intervention. When you agree to undergo a medical procedure performed by a doctor, you have the legal right to know what those risks are.
It is also fundamentally valuable for a patient and the doctor to have a relationship built on mutual trust and understanding. Health care outcomes are statistically higher when patients trust their doctors and vice versa. The advantages of informed consent are numerous—as are the dangers of failing to obtain informed consent. Informed consent can be seen as beneficial in that it:
- Allows the patient to be involved in their own care
- Creates a sense of trust between the patient and doctor
- Opens the door to an opportunity for misunderstandings to be corrected
- Forms a shared goal, lowering the risk to both patient and physician
- Increases the level of attention the patient is likely to devote to their post-procedure recovery
- Encourages the doctor to consider alternate treatments
- Recognizes the patient’s right over their own body
- Raises the standard of accountability for health care providers
- Provides a chance for the patient to seek a second opinion
- Fosters an overall trust in health care as a source of wellness
- Removes the patient from a situation in which they must blindly accept a procedure
- Takes pressure off the physician to make a difficult choice on another person’s behalf
- Builds a buffer of time between the proposal of treatment and the action, giving the patient time to consider, emotionally process, and confer with loved ones
Examples of Informed Consent in Medical Care
Most medical tests and interventions that carry with them any level of risk require informed consent. If you need to undergo any of the following procedures, you can expect that there will be an informed consent discussion with your health care provider first.
- Blood transfusions
- Most complex medical tests (such as a biopsy)
- Radiation therapy
- Other invasive cancer treatments
- Experimental treatments
- Some blood tests
Legal Options for Victims of Medical Malpractice in Mississippi
Victims of informed consent malpractice may suffer a lifetime of adverse health conditions because of a procedure they didn’t agree to. Informed consent is the law, and violating this law can have serious repercussions. If a medical professional’s unlawful conduct harmed you, a family member, or someone you love, you deserve to know that there is someone who will stand up for your rights.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law have your future in mind. We want your voice to be heard. We can help protect your financial security and prevent future harm from occurring in Mississippi hospitals. Your legal action can help hold our state’s health care system to a higher standard of ethical and safe patient treatment.
Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law, is prepared to protect your rights. We’ll begin with a free consultation to listen to your story and learn how we can help. Contact us today to begin the process of recovery.
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