Informed consent is an important part of any medical procedure. Before the doctor performs the procedure, he or she is required to inform the patient of the inherent risks of the procedure. Having been informed of these risks, the patient then must give his or her consent to the procedure. If the doctor does not inform the patient of these risks and the patient does not give informed consent, then the patient could sue for medical malpractice. Learn more about how this works, in our blog.
Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice
What risks does the doctor need to tell the patient about?
The standard for informed consent is whether another doctor would have told the patient about the risk. So if one doctor did not disclose a risk that a reasonable doctor would have disclosed in the same situation, then this doctor has violated the tenets of informed consent.
This means disclosure usually comes down to is whether the risk was statistically likely to happen. So, the doctor does not have to disclose a risk that is highly unlikely to occur. But if the numbers suggest there is a reasonable chance of the risk materializing, then disclosure is necessary.
Is informed consent ever not required?
In the vast majority of cases, a doctor must get a patient’s informed consent before performing a procedure. However, there are a few instances in which this is not required.
When a procedure needs to be done immediately in an emergency situation, the doctor is not required to inform the patient of risks. This is because time is critical in this situation, and action takes priority over informing the patient.
Informing the patient of certain risks may place the patient under a lot of stress, which could worsen their condition even further. In the case where a procedure is medically necessary but the risks are high, the doctor may have some leeway in informing the patient of risks, so as not to place them under additional stress that could be harmful.