Sitting in a doctor’s office can be an intimidating or overwhelming experience. Ideally your physician will take the time to give you a thorough explanation of all aspects of your procedure or treatment. You should know the risks and reasonable alternatives to the proposed treatment. You should also have the opportunity to ask questions. There needs to be a direct communication between you and your physician, known as Informed Consent.
This process doesn’t happen the way it should when a doctors rush, are distracted, or only put the information all in writing. You may have a case of medical malpractice if your doctor fails to inform you about risks associated with your treatment and that leads to your injury then. This can be true even if you have signed a consent form. You also may have a case if your doctor failed to discuss with you other medical alternatives available to you or possible outcomes of not pursuing treatment at all. If you had known information about an alternative treatment, you may have chosen another option.
Physicians have a moral, ethical and legal responsibility to you as the patient. They must conduct a thorough Informed Consent discussion before a medical treatment or procedure.When you are not fully informed of the risks, the doctor has in essence made the decision for you. According to the American Medical Association a physician must discuss with the patient:
– The patient’s diagnosis, if known
– The nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure
– The risks and benefits of a proposed treatment or procedure
– Alternatives regardless of their cost. This includes the extent to which health insurance covers the treatment option
– The risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure
– The risks and benefits of not receiving or undergoing a treatment or procedure
As a patient you should have the opportunity to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the treatment or procedure. Only then can you make an informed decision to proceed or to refuse a particular course of medical intervention.
The important piece for you to remember is that you are entitled to a thorough explanation from your physician of your care. This includes the methods and risks of any medical intervention before agreeing to it. You are also entitled to a discussion about reasonable alternatives for your care and treatment. This is so you can make your choice with all the facts in hand.
We urge you to consult with us as soon as you suspect you have been subject to negligence. We don’t expect you to come to us knowing all the answers—that’s our job. The initial consultation is free, and doesn’t put you under and obligation.
Recently we tried and won an Informed Consent case where a woman suffered bladder incontinence due to a complication from back surgery. The jury agreed that the Neurosurgeon failed to advise the patient about the risk of neurogenic bladder during surgery. The patient and her husband were awarded $1.8 million for their claim.