Before doctors and other medical professionals give a patient a course of treatment or other procedure, it is important (and most times required) that informed consent be obtained from the patient. Most commonly, informed consent is obtained by having the patient sign or fill out a consent form. However, there still the question of whether the patient really understands what they are consenting to.
When informed consent is given, the potential benefits and risks of a course of treatment, surgical procedure, or other type of care are discussed with the patient. Alternative treatments or procedures are also discussed with the patient. This is done so that the patient can make a fully informed decision about the medical care they will receive. The consent or authorization of the patient to go through the medical procedure is obtained by signing a document acknowledging that they have been provided with the necessary information to make the decision.
The conversation the physician has with the patient is very important and should not be delegated to a nurse or other medical professional. Simply having the patient sign an informed consent document is not enough. The reason is that the consent form may be written at a level too high for the average person to understand. Discussing the procedure or treatment with the patient gives them a chance to ask any questions they may have about the procedure, clarify the dangers, help avoid surgical mistakes, and allow for discussion about what is contained in the document.
It has been suggested that medical professionals be sure that they discuss and disclose certain pieces of information with their patients to ensure that they have been given informed consent. This information includes:
- The patient’s diagnosis;
- The nature and purpose of the proposed treatments or procedures;
- The risks and benefits;
- Any available alternative treatments or procedures;
- The risks and benefits of those alternative treatments; and
- The risks and benefits of forgoing treatment or procedures.
If you or a loved one has been injured while undergoing a treatment or procedure, and believe that you were not fully informed of the risks of the treatment or procedure, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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