What is informed consent and why is it important?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Whenever you have a medical treatment or procedure, you probably know that there are risks involved. Doctors and medical providers in North Dakota have a duty to provide you with information about these risks so you can make a fully informed decision about what you would like to do.

When a doctor gives you this type of information about a procedure and its risks, it is called getting your informed consent. When you are not properly informed about the risks, a doctor or medical professional has failed to provide you with informed consent and you might have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Doctors do not have to explain all the risks involved. However, they generally must explain known and major risks.

Exceptions to informed consent

There are some situations where informed consent is typically not required. These include emergency situations when an individual is unconscious or unable to consent to the treatment or situations where a patient is too fragile to understand the risks, such as a patient with a life-threatening brain tumor that must be removed as soon as possible.

Your doctor or a staff member will likely provide you with forms to sign before you undergo the medical treatment or procedure. The forms may describe the risks involved. Signing the forms does not mean you have been provided with informed consent.

Informed consent requires more than simply signing a document. Your doctor should talk with you privately, ask if you have any questions on the forms and answer any questions you have.

You have a right to have your questions answered

If your doctor refuses to answer questions or clarify information you do not understand, they have not obtained your informed consent. You should also not feel rushed through the conversation or leave feeling confused or still having questions.

When you go through a treatment or procedure without fully understanding the risks involved, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. The key is to examine if you would have made the same choice if you had been informed about the risks.