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What is Informed Consent and Why is it Important?

  Alan Fuchsberg  |  September 11, 2015  |  

Informed consent means that the doctor treating you has told you everything involved in the treatment you are about to receive. He explained the dangers, the potential consequences and all the repercussions of the procedure that you need to know. Even though we trust our doctors and our medical team, there may be some steps that they left out when they asked you to sign your name on the dotted line to accept treatment.

The state of New York has laws that protect the right of an individual to get information that refers to:

  • his or her medical condition
  • the treatment choices available
  • the risks that are associated with this treatment
  • the prognosis

This information has to be given in plain language and not a lot of doctor-speak so that you understand completely what you are facing. The information you receive will help you give your informed consent. Failure to fully inform a patient before obtaining consent to treatment may constitute medical malpractice.

Putting the “Informed” in Informed Consent

A patient must be competent when they give their consent and when they receive information about their treatment, too. If someone suffers from mental illness or other impairments, the consent must be given by a legal guardian. If the patient is a minor, informed consent will need to be given by a parent on behalf of that child.

When a doctor fails to get your consent and performs unauthorized surgery or does a procedure that you didn’t agree to, this is unauthorized treatment. If the physician fails to tell you all the risks, this is also unauthorized consent.

There is a dividing line between informed consent and unauthorized treatment. You need to be fully informed before going forward with any procedure, and the doctor needs to be honest afterward if problems develop or he or she made an error in the surgery.

If any of the above happened to you or a loved one, you may have a cause of action for filing a civil lawsuit. If you have questions about whether you received proper information before consenting to medical treatment, we invite you to contact our law firm. We serve victims of medical malpractice in New York and the surrounding region.

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