While you probably trust the decisions your doctor makes, you don’t have to be a passive participant when it comes to your own health. Before you have an operation, whether serious or minor, your physician is required to provide you with an oral and written outline of that surgery’s risks. These “informed consent” documents help you make an intelligent decision about your upcoming procedure. We, as patients, have the right to decide what is done and what is not done to our bodies.
What happens if you were not warned of all the risks and something goes wrong during surgery? In certain cases, this may be considered medical malpractice based on a lack of informed consent.
What Should I Know Before an Operation?
Generally speaking, an informed consent document details:
- Possible complications or side effects of surgery
- Cost of the operation
- Recovery time
- Purpose and intention of the surgery
- Alternative modalities to treat your condition
You, as the patient, also have the right to know who will be performing the procedure and what his/her qualifications are. All patients are required to sign an informed consent document before a procedure, except in an emergency situation. For example, if you were brought to the ER after a car accident and needed a life-saving surgery, it’s assumed that you offered consent.
Your physician, however, does not need to explain every possible complication; only the ones that are most serious and/or most commonly experienced by patients.
Medical Malpractice and Lack of Informed Consent
If a physician is negligent and does not properly inform you, it could have a serious impact on your health. Examples of a lack of informed consent include:
- You were not warned of a specific side effect
- You did not understand you had the right to refuse an operation
- You were not made aware of alternatives to the operation
- Your doctor did not explain the risks in language you could understand
Simply not informing you of the risks is not sufficient to assert medical malpractice. You need to prove that:
- Your doctor neglected to present you with a clear understanding of the procedure’s risks
- You suffered an actual harm as a result
Maryland and Washington D.C. Lawyers Explain your Rights
If you have suffered as the result of medical negligence, speak to an attorney at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. Medical malpractice is a complicated area of law—we can explain your legal options and rights. Let us answer any questions you may have. Call our firm today at 410-234-1000 or complete a contact form. We have offices in Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C.