What Is Informed Consent?
You may notice that when you go to a doctors office, or have a procedure or a surgery, that one of the papers that the doctor gives to you is what is known as informed consent. It seemingly lists a host of outcomes, or medical possibilities—and can even be a bit scary, when it lists all of those “worst possible outcome” scenarios.
But what is that document, and does it give you any rights?
That informed consent document is actually required by Florida law, which says that before a doctor sees you or performs any work or testing or procedure on you, the doctor must have your consent. Your consent has to be made knowledgeably—that is, the doctor must give you all possible information on what is going to be done to or on you.
That means you must be given or told, not just a description of the procedure itself. The description must include a list of other possibilities, a list of best and worst case outcomes, and a statement on what may happen if you opt to reject having the procedure done to you.
No Pressure or Coercion
The consent that you sign must be given to you at a time when you have the chance to back out of the procedure, if you wanted to. Clearly, making you read and sign an informed consent while you’re sitting in pre-op, with an IV in you, 10 minutes from your surgery, would not really be informed consent.
There is actually no law that requires that informed consent be in writing, although in practice, almost every doctor does put it in writing, so that it is clear what they have disclosed to you, and to avoid situations where patients and doctors later on may have a dispute about what was told or not told to the patient.
No Informed Consent?
Although the law requires informed consent be given, it is often hard for patients to sue for lack of informed consent. That’s because one big defense to a lack of informed consent case, is if you would have opted to have a procedure, or if you would have said yes to whatever the doctor was doing, even had informed consent been given.
So, if the doctor can show that you would have agreed to have a surgery, or have a test or other procedure done to you even had you received and signed the informed consent, then you would not be able to sue or win a case, for lack of being given informed consent.
Most of the time, informed consent liability is “piggybacked” onto medical malpractice claims, which allege malpractice outside of just the lack of consent. Still, informed consent is something a malpractice lawyer should look at, when evaluating a medical malpractice case.
Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today about how to handle your injuries if you feel you may have been a victim of medical malpractice.