Prior to providing most medical procedures or treatments, doctors need to obtain the patient’s informed consent. If informed consent is not obtained from the patient when it is required then there may be grounds to sue the doctor for medical malpractice. However, there are some cases where it is not required that the doctor obtain informed consent. These exceptions include:
Emergencies – In emergency situations, physicians need to act quickly in order to save a life. This does not leave time for the physician to describe the risks involved with their treatment. The basis of this exception is that a reasonable person would not want to be denied necessary medical care because they are not able to consent to the treatment.
In order for this exception to apply, the patient needs to be both incompetent to consent to the treatment and require the treatment to save his or her life or prevent permanent disability. If the exception applies, then the patient will be unable to sue for lack of informed consent in emergency situations regardless of whether he or she would not have consent to the treatment had they been informed.
Emotionally Fragile Patients – There are some situations where the doctor knows that a patient is in such a state of distress that he or she will refuse treatment they require, then the doctor may not be require to obtain the informed consent of the patient. In these cases, disclosing too many details of the necessary procedure will make a patient who is already frail, sick with anxiety and will potentially refuse treatment. The doctor then may be allowed to withhold some information about the procedure from the patient. The doctor may be able to determine how much should be disclosed to the patient based on the situation, however he or she needs to be able to demonstrate that there was a clear reason as to why the risks of the procedure were not disclosed.
If you or a loved one did not give informed consent prior to treatment or a procedure due to the lack of information provided by the doctor, and you do not fall into one of the exceptions where informed consent is not required, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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