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Why informed consent is so important in modern medicine

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Patients file medical malpractice claims due to a variety of different circumstances. Sometimes, a doctor shows up to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and then makes a major mistake while providing patient care. Other times, understaffing, improper equipment maintenance and other issues may contribute to a patient receiving inadequate support from healthcare professionals.

Medical professionals have to accept the risk of such claims and protect themselves by carrying special insurance, as well as following best practices for their area of specialization. There are also certain risks that people must accept when undergoing certain types of treatment. For example, when physicians recommend surgery, patients have to accept the risks inherent in that process including the possibility of an infection after the doctor performs the procedure and the risk of an adverse reaction to anesthesia.

Occasionally, complaints about the care provided by a doctor specifically focus on their failure to educate their patients about the risks of a recommended course of treatment.

Patients should give informed consent for care

One of the reasons that parents generally play a role in the healthcare provided to children is that children and young adults lack the ability to understand the long-term implications of different healthcare choices. Therefore, having an adult review the situation can help ensure that the choices made are in the best interests of the child.

Adults also need to consider their medical circumstances carefully before approving different treatment recommendations. For example, if a physician recommends an experimental procedure or if they recommend one type of treatment when there are multiple other, possibly less-invasive options, they should discuss the choice in depth with the patient. Patients cannot make an informed decision about the care that they receive if they are not aware of key details.

Physicians should disclose known complications, bad reactions, side effects and failure rates with patients. Simply handing someone a brochure or pushing them to sign a document is not the same thing as actually obtaining informed consent from that patient. If the patient ends up experiencing and easily predictable side effect or is one of the many people who does not respond to a certain type of treatment, then patients may question why the doctor did not inform them of the real risks.

In some cases, failing to advise patients of the risks involved in a certain course of treatment could constitute medical malpractice. Learning about informed consent and other modern medical standards may benefit patients who believe that their doctor did not conform to those standards before they inspired a negative medical outcome.