Think back to the last time that you saw a new doctor. You’ll likely remember having to fill out a lot of paperwork before they’d see you. One of those is likely an informed consent document.
Medical providers generally can’t see a patient until they first sign a consent form allowing them to diagnose or treat them. A doctor must outline what your diagnosis is, your prognosis, treatment options and the risks associated with each as part of the informed consent process. Medical providers must also ensure that the information that they impart is easily understood.
Patients may sue their medical providers if they treat them without first going through the informed consent process, particularly if their failure to do so results in an adverse event.
Doctors must secure consent from someone with the legal authority to give it
One mistake doctors make that can leave them in legal hot water is not securing consent from the person that has the legal authority to offer it.
While adults 18 or older can generally provide consent for their own medical treatment, that’s not the case for every adult. Any individual providing consent must be mentally competent to understand the information being conveyed to them. If they can’t, then their legal guardian or health care proxy would have to step in and do so for them in most cases.
Almost any child under the age of 18, unless they are emancipated, must have their parents sign the consent form for their treatment.
Legal liability risks doctors face by not obtaining consent
Patients who suffer adverse health events from a doctor carrying out an unauthorized and potentially debilitating medical procedure may be held both civilly and criminally liable for their actions.
While recovering damages in a civil case isn’t likely to help you turn back the hands of time and forget the negligence that occurred, such penalties can help cover any resulting expenses and minimize the chances of a medical provider making the same mistake again.