Informed consent is an important component to the doctor-patient relationship. Before providing treatment to a patient, a physician must ensure that a patient is made aware of all the risks involved, so that he or she can make a decision (and give permission) to go forward with the treatment plan. If you weren’t given that opportunity, contact our Cleveland medical malpractice lawyers for a free consultation. We combine specialized medical knowledge, exceptional trial skills, and superior negotiating talent to obtain full and fair compensation for clients. We also wrote the book on medical malpractice. Request your free copy here.
The Informed Consent Definition
Informed consent entails having a good understanding of adverse side effects and the potential outcome of your medical treatment. One could also define it as a patient’s right to be provided accurate information from a doctor, so he or she can make an informed decision as to whether or not to proceed with the prescribed treatment, medication, surgery, or therapy.
How Does Informed Consent Relate to Diagnosis and Treatment?
When a patient is diagnosed with a medical condition, he or she has the right to understand its impact. For instance, a doctor may diagnose a patient with coronary artery disease. Although the patient may understand that it has to do with the heart, he or she may not know the potential consequences of this disease.
Upon diagnosis, a doctor must explain the intended treatment plan. If that explanation omits important information, the doctor may be violating the patient’s rights. For instance, had the patient known everything involved, he or she may have chosen another form of treatment or pursued a second opinion.
In most cases, there is more than one type of treatment available for a medical condition. Informed consent means a doctor will explain all of these options. Leaving one out could result in negligence.
Even if a doctor feels that one type of treatment would be better than another, he or she still has an obligation to provide alternatives to the patient. A patient has the right to make the final decision.
The risks associated with those treatments must also be disclosed, including the fact that the treatment may not work.
Knowing all the risks allows the patient to weigh pros and cons. For instance, prostate cancer is a common condition for which aggressive treatment is not always necessary. Some patients would benefit in waiting to see if the tumor grows because treatment often results in side effects such as incontinence or impotence.
If a patient had known that waiting was an option, he or she may have decided to put off treatment to avoid risking those side effects.
A doctor should also explain the possible outcomes if no treatment plan is pursued.