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What Is Informed Consent?

May 2, 2018

“To proceed with a medical procedure or treatment, doctors must have the consent of their fully-informed patients. A lack thereof could result in a medical malpractice suit.”

Medical patients have a certain set of rights when they visit a healthcare facility in Montana. One of the most important entitlements is the right to make informed decisions regarding their own health care.

Patients have the right to be informed of the medical procedures or courses of treatment that doctors propose to them. Given this information, the patient then consents—or does not consent—to the proposed plan of action.

When a doctor sufficiently communicates the risks, dangers, benefits, and probable outcomes of a given procedure and the patient understands the information and agrees to go through with the doctor’s recommendation, it is called informed consent. It’s not enough for the patient to hear this information only; they must understand it as well.

Informed consent is based on the idea that within the doctor-patient relationship, the doctor is the patient’s source of medical knowledge. A patient’s consent to treatment is meaningful only if the doctor has supplied sufficient information that their patient understands.

The failure to obtain informed consent before executing a procedure or treatment may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit. This is especially true if the doctor’s plan results in serious or life-long injuries.

If the patient can show they would not have agreed to the procedure had they been sufficiently advised of the risks, the physician or hospital may be liable for damages.

For this reason, doctors are required to explain their procedures before progressing. In fact, the medical professionals aren’t only required to explain the risks/benefits of their recommended plan but are also obliged to provide the risks/benefits of alternative courses of action, as well as the probable outcomes of taking no action at all.

Additionally, the doctor should give the patient a chance to ask questions, and should make sure the patient understands the information provided.

When contemplating an uncertain medical procedure, remember that you have the last word. The doctor is not allowed to take any action without your fully informed consent. Likewise, it’s not enough to simply hear the doctor’s recommendation; it must be communicated in a way that you understand as well.

If a medical professional fails to supply sufficient information and their recommendation does more harm than good, speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be entitled compensation for damages that resulted from a non-consensual medical procedure.