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Informed Consent as Part of a Collaborative Decision-Making Process

March 19, 2020 in Personal Injury Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

As a patient, you have a right to be an active participant in your own health care. This means making your own decisions about whether or not you want to assume the risks involved in certain types of treatment. However, because the field of medicine is vast and complex, you probably do not have the knowledge you need to make appropriate decisions without help.

Part of the role of the physician is to explain your condition and treatment options to you so that you understand what is happening and can make health care decisions for yourself on the basis of concrete facts. The process of your doctor making this information known to you and then gaining permission to perform a specific treatment is called informed consent.

Doctor’s Responsibilities

Your doctor has a legal and ethical responsibility to provide comprehensive information about your condition and treatment options. That means that he or she must provide as much information as needed for you to understand all your options and be able to make an appropriate decision on the basis of facts. Your doctor should specifically cover the following as it relates to treatment options:

  • Benefits: How is the treatment expected to improve your condition?
  • Risks: How could the treatment potentially harm you?
  • Alternatives: What other treatments are available for this condition?

However, it is not enough for the information to be comprehensive. It must also be understandable. The field of medicine involves a lot of technical terms and jargon. If your doctor uses terminology that is unfamiliar to you to explain your condition, you may wind up confused and overwhelmed. Your doctor should explain your condition and treatment options simply, in plain language that you can easily understand. If he or she does not, there is a legitimate question as to whether informed consent has taken place.

Patient’s Responsibilities

The expectation is that you will play an active role in your health care. That means engaging in a conversation with your physician about your condition and possible treatment options. You should prepare yourself to ask questions about anything you do not understand. If your doctor uses an unfamiliar term, you should ask him or her to define it for you. You should not consent to a treatment until you are sure that you understand what the doctor plans to do, what the long-term positive and negative effects may be, and what your other options are.

If a doctor fails to provide an adequate explanation before performing a procedure or administering a treatment, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit if you suffered harm as a result. Contact a law office to arrange a consultation with a medical negligence lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah.

 


 

Thanks to Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical malpractice and consent.

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