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What is Informed Consent?

Informed Consent Relating to Medical Malpractice

Every patient has the right to know the risks and possible dangers associated with their course of treatment. Informed consent allows the patient to fully understand and accept any complications or consequences that may result from their treatment path. If a doctor or health care provider does not talk with the patient about these risks, they may have failed to obtain informed consent, which could be a form of medical malpractice.

If you suspect that your doctor or health care provider failed to obtain informed consent, the experienced Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter can help. We can sit down and review your options together during a free consultation.

What is Informed Consent?

According to MedicineNet, informed consent is defined as, “The process by which a patient learns about and understands the purpose, benefits, and potential risks of a medical or surgical intervention, including clinical trials, and then agrees to receive the treatment or participate in the trial. Informed consent generally requires the patient or responsible party to sign a statement confirming that they understand the risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment.”

In order for a patient to give informed consent, the doctor or health care provider must explain:

  • The diagnosis
  • The proposed course of medical treatment and the reason behind it
  • The benefits of the proposed treatment
  • The risks of the proposed treatment
  • The benefits and/or risks of not undergoing the recommended treatment
  • Any alternative treatment options along with their benefits and risks

Understanding Consent Forms

The law requires medical providers to gather consent from patients before performing any medical procedure or administering any treatment, ranging from check-ups and vaccinations to any type of surgery. Signing a consent form confirms that the patient is agreeing to undergo the procedure needed and understands its implications. Similarly, the physician must also verbally inform the patient as to why they need this procedure, the outcome, and the risks included but cannot do so in lieu of a signed consent form.

It is natural to trust medical professionals because of their title, as it indicates years of education and training, but this puts people in a tough spot when they encounter any form of medical malpractice. Whether it be an accident or negligence, there are instances where medical professionals who have gather consent forms harm their patients during a procedure or while overseeing their care. When this happens, patients have a right under Ohio law to seek compensation for their injuries.

Is Informed Consent Always Required?

Although informed consent is important in many cases, it’s not always required. Some scenarios in which informed consent is not needed include:

  • Routine Medical Treatment
  • Emergency Situations
  • Minors or Mentally Disabled
  • Suspected Harm

Routine Medical Treatment

When receiving routine medical treatment such as checking blood pressure, using a stethoscope to detect a heartbeat, or checking other simple vital signs, informed consent is usually unnecessary. These procedures are non-invasive and are considered standard treatments.

Emergency Situations

In some emergency situations, informed consent is not always an option. A variety of factors including time, unconsciousness, and life-threatening injuries could prevent the doctor or health care professional from obtaining informed consent in order to prevent further damage.

Minors or Mentally Disabled

Some patients, including minors and mentally disabled individuals, cannot give consent on their own. In many cases, the parent or guardian acts as the patient giving consent. Although every situation is different, guardians of minors and mentally disabled should be contacted first when requiring informed consent.

Suspected Harm

If the doctor or health care professional believes the patient will become overly distressed or harmed by having a conversation about treatment, the medical professional may be legally able to provide treatment without consent.

If I Submitted a Consent Form, Does that Mean I Can’t File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

It is important for all individuals who have suffered from medical malpractice to become knowledgeable of the law and contact an attorney immediately. Our team of legal professionals can confirm whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim, regardless of any informed consent form, and help you gather appropriate evidence.

If a healthcare provider acts on anything beyond what was agreed upon, they can be held liable for medical negligence. If a doctor performs a procedure that was not discussed in the consent form, this can also be a reason to sue, regardless of whether it was deemed ‘successful.’ If you or a loved one underwent a procedure that was not necessary for the condition, or there was a mistake or misunderstanding that could have been avoided if the healthcare professional had acted according to medically accepted standards, you may have a right to file a lawsuit.

However, medical professionals in Ohio can argue against claims when it was an emergency or life-threatening situation where the patient was not able to give consent.

How Can I Prove Medical Malpractice?

In order to prove that a doctor or health care provider failed to obtain informed consent, the following elements of negligence must be proven:

  • The health care provider had a duty to get informed consent before performing a medical procedure
  • The health care provider failed to obtain informed consent
  • The course of medical treatment issued would not have been gained consent if the risks and dangers were presented beforehand
  • An injury was suffered due to the course of medical treatment that did not receive consent

Let Our Team Help You File a Claim

It is important to remember that singing an informed consent form is not a deal-breaker for civil litigation in Ohio, and you may still be able to file a medical malpractice claim for the healthcare provider’s negligence. Speaking with an attorney about your options, evidence, and how you can recover your losses can help you better understand how to proceed in your best interests. Ask our legal team about whether you can sue for medical malpractice in Ohio despite having signed an informed consent form.