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What is informed consent and why is it important?

We place a significant amount of trust in medical professionals during difficult times when dealing with medical concerns. Patients are commonly in vulnerable positions related to medical concerns and may not know if they are receiving enough information to make a good and informed medical decision or may fear they are receiving treatment without knowing all of the risks associated with the particular treatment.

A claim for medical malpractice may arise because of a lack of informed consent and unauthorized treatment as a result. Patients have the right to receive information concerning their medical condition, diagnosis, treatment options, the risks associated with the possible treatments, alternative forms of treatment, the risks associated with those alternatives, the consequences of inaction and their prognosis. The information provided must be understandable, allowing the patient to make an informed healthcare decision.

When the patient has received the information, and consented to treatment, it is considered informed consent. Obtaining informed consent is an ethical and legal obligation. Medical treatment may be considered unauthorized because the procedure or risks associated with the procedure were not completely explained. For a medical malpractice claim, the patient must demonstrate that the medical professional performed medical treatment or procedure without informed consent and, secondly, had the patient understood the risks of the procedure, would not have consented to it or the treatment.

Being harmed while in the care of a medical professional is a serious concern for victims which is why they should understand the legal protections available to help them. Medical malpractice claims provide a resource to help victims recover compensation for the damages that may be suffered as a result of medical malpractice.

Source: Injury.findlaw.com, "Informed Consent and Unauthorized Treatment," Accessed Dec. 28, 2016

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