As a patient, you have the right to be advised of all of the risks involved in any proposed medical treatment or procedure. Your healthcare professional has a duty to keep you fully informed of these risks. This is referred to as “informed consent” in medical terminology.
Informed consent is absolutely critical when it comes to medical treatment; not knowing all of the possible risks puts a patient at a severe disadvantage, especially if they face life-altering side effects or unintended outcomes from the procedure.
If your doctor failed to disclose the risks of a medical procedure and you did not provide informed consent, you may be able to sue. Read on to learn more about informed consent and medical malpractice lawsuits.
What is informed consent?
Nearly every medical procedure or treatment involves some degree of risk. However, it is the responsibility of the medical professional to give the patient information so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they should undergo the procedure.
The provision of this essential information and obtaining the patient’s agreement to the procedure is informed consent.
Typically, a doctor or other professional such as a nurse will outline all of the potential risks before a procedure, discuss the various outcomes, and answer any questions the patient may have. Following this, the patient will sign a consent form acknowledging that a medical professional did indeed inform them of the possible risks.
However, it is not enough for a patient to simply sign the consent form; the doctor or other medical professional must actually discuss the risks, orally or in writing, with the patient prior to the procedure.
According to Fla. Statute §766.103, also known as the Florida Medical Consent Law, informed consent in Florida requires the following:
- The nature of the procedure
- The substantial risks, hazards, and potential outcomes of the procedure
- Any reasonable alternatives to the procedure (including the option of not taking action at all)
Failure to obtain informed consent is a serious crime in Florida and should be treated as such. If a doctor fails to get informed consent from a patient, and the patient would not have agreed to the procedure if they knew the risks, the patient may have grounds to sue the doctor for medical malpractice.
Are there situations when informed consent is not required?
While informed consent is a critical aspect of most medical procedures or treatments, there are a few exceptions to the rule as outlined under the Good Samaritan Act. In the following situations, it may not be necessary to obtain informed consent.
- Medical emergencies in which a doctor must act swiftly to save a patient’s life
- If a patient is so emotionally distressed that they will refuse much-needed treatment
- If disclosing too many details about a necessary procedure would cause an emotionally fragile patient to become sick with anxiety
However, in the majority of medical situations, informed consent is necessary to move forward with a procedure.
To prove a claim for lack of informed consent, the patient and their lawyer must provide evidence on the nature of the risks of the treatment they underwent, in addition to the reasonable medical standard of disclosure. The patient’s medical malpractice claim for lack of informed consent must also be backed up by expert testimony to support the risks that should have been disclosed under the specific circumstances of the case.
Don’t Take Risks – See a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice is a highly complex field of law that is heavily regulated by complicated rules. Medical malpractice laws can also vary greatly between states, so you must seek help from an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer.
At Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath, our highly skilled medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience in handling medical malpractice cases involving lack of informed consent. Our passion for advocating for victims of medical malpractice is what enables us to pursue maximum recovery for victims.
Call us at (561) 655-1990 to schedule your risk-free case evaluation.
No matter where you are, one of our offices can help.