When A Lack Of Informed Consent Equates To Medical Malpractice

Patients rely on medical professionals to provide information and advice on health care concerns. After all, as experts with education and knowledge in specific medical practice areas, it’s their job to explain the condition and care options to their patients. Failure to do so could amount to medical malpractice. Our attorneys at Nelson & Hammons, Attorneys At Law, located in Shreveport and Lafayette, help clients in Louisiana pursue financial compensation for injuries and damages that occurred when medical professionals failed to provide informed consent.

Knowing the possible risks and rates of success for medical procedures is vital to making informed decisions on whether to receive treatment. Most people rely on their physicians to provide them with the information necessary to decide whether surgery, medication or another type of therapy is the right option for them.

Required Conversations About Treatment Plans

After having discussions about the success rates and possible risks of different treatment options, doctors and patients should decide on treatment plans together. In the medical and legal field, this is considered “informed consent.” When this important conversation does not happen or does not include everything that needs to be discussed, there is a lack of informed consent. To provide a patient with informed consent, the doctor or medical professional must:

  • Explain the patient’s medical condition in a way that the patient understands
  • Explain the different options available for treatment in a way that the patient understands
  • Explain the various risks, potential outcomes and different success rates of the different treatment options available
  • Ensure that the patient understands that it’s their choice as to how to proceed with any recommended medical procedures

Many types of medical treatments have risks. Medications have possible side effects, surgeries can have risks of complications and further injury and some therapies can even have a risk of death. Therefore, informed consent is important to confirm that a patient knows the possible outcomes of a certain treatment. The patient needs to understand what risks are involved to receive the possible benefit.

When Is Lack Of Informed Consent Medical Malpractice?

Lack of informed consent is a complicated type of medical malpractice. First, like all medical malpractice claims, the lack of informed consent must result in harm or injury to the patient. This must be a direct result of not receiving all the information necessary to make an informed decision on whether to have the treatment recommended by the physician.

Second, if a person is injured from a treatment due to a risk that was not disclosed, the risk must be material. This means that the risk must have been high enough that the patient would have made a different decision about the procedure had they been fully informed. For example, if the risk was actually low and the benefit of having the procedure was high, a reasonable person would probably still have the treatment, even knowing the risk.

In other words, it must be clear that if the patient knew all the risks or possible side effects of a treatment, then they would not have consented to the procedure, and that, because of the risks, the patient was harmed or injured.

Nonemergency Procedures And Implied Consent Forms

Generally, for nonemergency procedures, informed consent forms are used and signed by patients before treatments are provided. However, just because a patient signed a form, it does not necessarily mean that the doctor or surgeon is protected from liability for a medical malpractice claim if the patient is injured during the treatment. If it can be proven that the patient did not know or understand the significance of a risk, that they would have made a different decision had they understood it and that they ended up injured as a result of the procedure, then, even with a signed form, it could still be medical malpractice.

Our Lawyers’ Experience With Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice cases are extremely difficult, and proving a lack of consent is even more so. There are extensive steps to pursue litigation, and insurance companies often appeal verdicts that favor plaintiffs. Nelson & Hammons, Attorneys At Law, was founded in 1977, and our attorneys exclusively practice medical malpractice law. Our legal team has the resources, knowledge and experience to successfully pursue a medical malpractice claim on the basis of a lack of implied consent.

Don’t Wait. Call Today.

If you have been harmed by medical treatment and were not informed of the risks of the medical procedure or medications beforehand, then you may have a medical malpractice case, but strict deadlines apply to file a lawsuit. Contact us today at 318-716-7329 or send an email through our website to schedule your free consultation appointment.