BY: Matthew Turner | IN: Class Action & Commercial Litigation, Employment Law
The last time you had a medical procedure, did you truly give informed consent?
Probably not, according to two physicians who recently wrote an article on the issue for the New York Times. They even went so far as to call today’s informed consent practices a “farce.”
That’s a fairly shocking admission, given that the American Medical Association’s own Code of Medical Ethics says that doctors have a duty to obtain informed consent — in other words, to provide enough information to their patients so that they can make an informed decision about their treatment.
But it’s also honest, and it will certainly ring true to anyone who has recently had a medical procedure. In the flurry of paperwork you filled out, you likely signed a “consent to treatment” form. But that doesn’t mean your consent was informed consent.
According to the AMA itself, to give informed consent, the patient must understand:
Doctors today are often operating on tight appointment timeframes that make it nearly impossible to explain all the details, risks, benefits and alternatives associated with a complex procedure. But it’s important for them to do so, because you have a right to understand the treatment you are agreeing to.
The burden of ensuring informed consent should never be placed on the patient. Still, the doctors in the New York Times article did offer some tips for anyone talking with their doctor about an upcoming medical procedure:
It can be difficult to get a doctor to slow down long enough to really explain your treatment in terms you can understand. But it’s certainly always better to ask questions now, rather than have regrets about your medical decisions later. If you or a loved one has already experienced complications after undergoing a medical procedure and you don’t feel you were fully informed about its risks, contact the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Sommers Schwartz to discuss your case.
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Matthew Turner is a shareholder with Sommers Schwartz, and focuses his practice on medical malpractice, legal malpractice, ERISA, and class action matters.