As a patient in the United States, you have certain rights. For example, you have the right to expect that your doctor will act with a reasonable degree of professionalism and skill in providing you medical services. You also have the right to give informed consent prior to any medical procedure being performed on you.
If a doctor fails to obtain informed consent, this is considered a breach of medical ethics. The doctor’s lapse can have serious consequences for patients, especially if they undergo unnecessary or unwanted medical intervention. This is true both when a doctor performs treatment without obtaining any type of permission as well as in the far more common situation where a doctor provides a course of treatment without fully explaining the risk or alternatives.
Lack of informed consent can be considered a form of medical malpractice and, like any other failure on the part of a doctor or healthcare provider, can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you or a loved one submitted to or was subject to medical treatment without giving informed consent and you wish to take legal action, it is advisable to contact an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
The Dangers of a Lack of Informed Consent
When patients go to a doctor or healthcare provider, they put their trust in the professional to know what is best. However, having a relationship with a doctor or provider does not give the provider a unilateral right to make decisions for patients. In fact, patients retain their own autonomy and it is a fundamental tenant of the medical code of ethics that patients must give informed consent before any procedure is performed.
This means that a patient must be told of the risks, told of alternatives and told of the potential outcome both with and without a given treatment before the patient chooses whether to say yes or no. Unfortunately, if a doctor fails in any aspect of obtaining consent- from educating the patient to providing information on risks and alternatives- then a patient cannot make a truly informed decision. The patient may undergo treatment that he/she would not have chosen if he had been more fully informed and may suffer harm as a result.
The consequences of a failure to obtain informed consent will vary depending upon what treatment was performed and what outcome occurred as a result. While informed consent can happen in any medical situation where a doctor doesn’t communicate appropriately, some of the times when a patient may be most at risk as a result of failure to obtain informed consent include the following:
When a patient is prescribed a drug for “off-labeluse.
The FDA approves drugs only for certain specific uses. However, sometimes drugs are believed to be effective at treating other conditions as well. Doctors can sometimes prescribe drugs to treat a different problem than was intended and this is referred to as an “off-labeluse. Using a drug for an off-label use can significantly increase the risk of something going wrong for patients, and yet often they are not fully informed by physicians that they are taking a drug for a different purpose than intended.
When a patient is entered into a clinical trial or subject to experimental treatment.
Patients should always be told when the therapies they are undergoing have not yet been approved or established to be effective.
When a physician fails to explain other alternatives to the course of treatment.
Physicians may do this for any number of reasons, from a lack of knowledge of the other treatment options to a financial incentive for them to push patients towards certain therapies.
These are just three of many examples of situations where a doctor may fail to obtain the informed consent of a patient. In any case, patients who believe their doctors did not live up to the requirement of keeping them informed and involved in their care should consider speaking with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer.
How an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help After a Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
Cases involving failure to obtain informed consent can be very complicated. This is true not only because a plaintiff has to show he wasn’t fully informed of his treatment but also because a plaintiff has to show that he was damaged in some way as a result of the lack of consent. If the patient would have acted the same way or accepted the same treatment even knowing all the details, then he did not lose anything as a result of the informed-consent failure and may thus be limited in his ability to recover damages.
An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer can work to help a patient prove that he was harmed as a result of the doctor or provider’s failure. From gathering evidence of the lack of information the patient received to finding expert witnesses to negotiating a settlement or proving a case in court, Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers can help victims of a failure to obtain informed consent.
Have You Been The Victim Of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a medical error you need to speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 855.GA.INJURY or 404.991.5950 to schedule your free consultation.