Most medical treatment comes with some degree of risk. Patients generally accept the risk of side effects when taking a prescription drug or the rare possibility of a surgical mistake when they agree to undergo a procedure.
However, some procedures are more dangerous than others, cause life-altering side effects and have higher failure rates. Patients deserve to have accurate information so they know about the possible consequences of the care they may receive.
Especially when a physician recommends a new treatment still in the research stages, they should ensure that the patient in their care understands the possible consequences, including the possibility of a failed procedure. Patients should give fully informed consent for significant medical procedures.
Informed consent failures can be medical malpractice
There are numerous reasons why doctors may gloss over or completely avoid mentioning the risks inherent in certain lines of treatment.
They may want the prestige that comes from involvement in the early research by performing a specific procedure. They may have a financial incentive, as experimental care often requires out-of-pocket payments because insurance will not cover such medical care.
Sometimes, a doctor failing to obtain informed consent isn’t even the result of some ulterior motive but simple incompetence. A doctor may gloss over certain information or assume that the patient would already know specific risks.
Simply handing someone a pamphlet or telling them to research the procedure online is not sufficient. The same is true of a doctor having a patient sign an informed consent form without actually providing the specific risks and side effects associated with the treatment that they recommend.
Patients who know the risks sometimes make different choices
Doctors may gloss over failure rates and side effects because they presume that nothing bad will happen. Patients often are not willing to take that same degree of risk. If someone knows, for example, that an experimental surgical procedure has a very high revision rate, they may not want that form of treatment.
Individuals who don’t understand how likely failure is or what consequences they may face have a hard time making intelligent, informed decisions about their medical care. If your doctor omitted key information or deliberately mislead you about the success rate or likely complications of treatment they recommended, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim if the treatment failed or you suffered from those serious side effects.
Taking action after you experience medical malpractice can both compensate you financially and to hold the medical professional accountable for their mistakes or misconduct.