In healthcare, it is a patient’s fundamental right to learn about and understand the purpose, benefits and other relevant information about a procedure or treatment. Accordingly, medical professionals have the duty to explain this information as clearly as they can to their patients. Otherwise, a patient’s lack of informed consent can result in medical malpractice.
What is lack of informed consent?
Lack of informed consent is a situation wherein a medical professional fails to provide a patient with all the necessary information about a treatment or procedure, preventing the patient from making an informed decision. This information includes the process, its significant risks, possible side effects and alternatives, if any.
When does it become medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice due to lack of informed consent comes in several forms.
Patients usually agree to procedures and treatments based on the information disclosed by medical practitioners. If a practitioner intentionally or negligently fails to inform a patient about an information that would otherwise make the patient decline the procedure, then that medical professional can be liable for medical negligence.
A case for medical malpractice is also possible if a medical professional proceeds with a treatment or procedure without the patient’s voluntary consent, even if the procedure is successful. The same applies if a medical practitioner proceeds with a voluntary consent from a patient who clearly does not have the capacity to understand the weight of the information.
Lastly, lack of informed consent can bring rise to medical malpractice suits if a treatment or procedure results in a patient’s injury or death due undisclosed risks that the patient would have decline if they were properly informed.
Hold the right people accountable
No matter how confident medical practitioners are with the success of procedures and treatments, they must uphold their medical duty of care and respect patients’ right to informed consent. If you believe you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice due to lack of informed consent, you should explore your available remedies to hold the right people accountable.