FAQ: What is “informed consent”?
As the very most important member of your health care team, you have the right to help decide what medical care is best for you. That’s why, by law, your health care provider must communicate with you regarding your health condition and treatment options. This process is part of what is described legally as “informed consent.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes informed consent as:
- “You are informed. You have received information about your health condition and treatment options.”
- “You understand your health condition and treatment options.”
- “You are able to decide what health care treatment you want to receive and give your consent to receive it.”
According to PHP Law Firm attorney, Drew Steadman, “Failure of a physician to [obtain consent] could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.” However, not all situations require informed consent, and there are two different types of informed consent.
What Requires Informed Consent?
Medical procedures or treatments that will likely require informed consent include surgeries, advanced/complex medical tests or procedures, radiation/chemotherapy, vaccines and some blood tests. It’s important to note, however, that informed consent may not be required in an emergency situation. Additionally, there may be situations in which obtaining informed consent from the patient is not possible. If someone cannot understand information themselves, it may be necessary to obtain consent from a surrogate or other decision-maker.
Verbal Consent vs. Written Consent
The two types of informed consent are verbal and written. Because not all medical treatments require written consent, your health care provider may simply discuss the situation with you and will ask if you are verbally agreeing to have the treatment. More serious procedures will likely require written consent. In a case like this, you will still likely discuss the situation, but you will also be given written information you must read before signing a consent form.
Has Your Right to Informed Consent Been Violated?
If you believe yours or your loved one’s right to informed consent was violated, resulting in harm, injury or even death, it is best to contact an attorney. The PHP Law Firm in Wichita, Kansas, specializes in medical malpractice. We have years of experience dealing with cases that involve informed consent. We offer free consultations and will talk through your situation with you before making a recommendation. Better yet, the PHP Law Firm does not charge a cent unless we win compensation for you.
Contact our team of medical malpractice attorneys directly at (316) 683-9080. We look forward to speaking with you!