When you see a doctor, rarely will they commence any type of treatment without first obtaining what’s called “informed consent.” They do this in order to let you know what they will be doing to you. This requires you to understand the risks associated with the procedure before you agree to undergo the procedure. This isn’t just a courtesy they pay to their patients — it’s actually required by law. Sometimes though, informed consent is not always as informed as we would like it to be, and that’s where problems arise.
If you have been injured by a healthcare professional and believe you were not told the facts about what they did to you in advance, you may have a medical malpractice case against that provider. You should speak with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
What is Informed Consent?
Informed consent is used to describe a process of communication between a medical provider and a patient. That communication should result in the patient having a clear picture of what treatment is going to be provided. Also, the communication should include the risks and benefits of that treatment. Informed consent is a legal requirement for treating a patient.
The concept of informed consent arose out of the premise that patients have a right to determine what happens to their bodies. Therefore, patients should be able to make an informed, intelligent decision based on the facts presented to them. Most patients do not have medical training. Consequently, healthcare providers have a legal and ethical obligation to inform their patients as to the risks and benefits of any medical procedure. That information must be provided prior to performing any such procedure.
What is Required to Obtain Informed Consent?
Tennessee law requires that for consent to be truly informed, the following information must be provided to the patient:
- the patient’s diagnosis
- the reasons for the procedure or treatment
- the risks and likelihood of success of the procedure or treatment
- any alternative treatments available
- the risks and benefits of the available alternatives, and
- whether the proposed procedure or treatment is experimental
A healthcare provider is not required to list every possible remote thing that can go wrong. However, they must provide information on the material risks inherent in the treatment or procedure. The healthcare provider must also tailor the conversation to the age, mental state, condition, and personal values of the patient. This is so that the message is most likely to get through to them. In short, handing a patient a form to read and sign is not generally enough to constitute informed consent.
When is Informed Consent Not Required in Tennessee?
In emergency situations, consent is generally implied. This means the medical provider assumes that you want them to save your life by any reasonable means possible. If you are unconscious, they do not have to wait until you regain consciousness to have a discussion about the benefits and risks of their life-saving measures.
If you have been injured by a medical provider, including if you were not properly informed of the risks associated with procedure, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Cummings Law today. We can assess the facts of your case and help you decide next steps to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Posted in: Medical Malpractice