When you enter a medical facility with the intention of receiving treatment, you have a legal right to a comprehensive description of the treatment you are being offered by the doctor.
In addition, you have the right to know the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment, as well as all reasonable alternatives to the suggested care.
This concept is referred to as informed consent. Keep reading for the answers to your questions about informed consent.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Informed Consent
Why is informed consent important?
There are two main reasons why informed consent is important:
- You have the legal right to control what is done to your body.
- You may refuse treatment for any reason, even if your doctor believes it is the proper course of action.
- Most medical treatments involve a risk of side effects and complications to the patient.
- The treatment may not resolve your condition. That’s why you need enough information to effectively weigh the pros and cons before enduring any procedures.
What information must the doctor provide to comply with informed consent laws?
Under Indiana Code Sec. 34-18-13-3, a doctor must provide the following information to obtain informed consent:
- The general nature of your condition
- The proposed treatment, procedure, examination, or test
- The expected outcome of the treatment, procedure, examination, or test
- The material risk of the treatment, procedure, examination, or test
- The reasonable alternatives to the treatment, procedure, examination, or test
If a doctor treats you without obtaining your informed consent to the treatment and you are injured, you may have a malpractice claim against the doctor.
What are the 3 key features of the informed consent process?
- Disclosing the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Facilitating an understanding of what has been disclosed.
- Promoting the voluntariness of the decision about whether to endure the treatment
How does Indiana’s informed consent work?
You’ll need to provide your consent to the healthcare providers who will conduct your treatment. You may provide your consent either verbally or in writing. The medical professionals handling your care are required to keep a record of your informed consent.
If I sign an informed consent document from the medical facility and I am injured as a result of the treatment, am I barred from pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit?
No, you don’t waive your right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit just by providing consent for treatment. If the doctor or other medical professionals handling your treatment fail to exercise reasonable care and you are injured as a result, you will have a viable medical malpractice case regardless of the consent you signed. Patients are not consenting to negligence on the part of their health care providers when they sign a consent for treatment.
What are some examples of informed consent in medical malpractice cases?
- When a physician fails to advise a patient that his thyroid condition can be safely and effectively treated without surgery. Believing that surgery is his only option, the patient undergoes surgery and suffers permanent and severe damage to his voice.
- When an obstetrician fails to advise her patient that she has the option of a cesarean section when difficulty is encountered in the delivery of the patient's baby. The obstetrician proceeds with vaginal delivery, resulting in serious, permanent injury to the child.
Medical Malpractice is Possible Regardless
No matter what forms you sign, if the medical professionals who handle your treatment do not live up to the expected standard of care, you likely have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
If something goes wrong with your care and you’re unsure whether your resulting ailments are in accordance with the known risks of the treatment or if the medical professionals made a mistake, it’s in your best interest to discuss the situation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away.
It’s important to hire an attorney who is well-versed in the screening process and can accurately assess whether an ailment is a result of the risks associated with the treatment, or if a medical mistake has been made.
Our team here at Garau Germano, P.C. is highly skilled in the area of medical malpractice law and has helped many other people in similar situations obtain justice. Let us see if we can help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our office right away with any questions you have.