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Medical malpractice topics: What is informed consent?

The term "informed consent" refers to the consent that a patient gives prior to a medical procedure. A doctor will not put you under anesthesia and perform an operation on you until you've expressly given him or her permission to do so. In other words, you need to give your consent. However, your consent also has to be "informed," meaning that your physician has fully described the procedure to you along with its potential risks, so that you can make an educated decision about whether to proceed. This consent usually needs to be codified in writing.

Plaintiffs sometimes file medical malpractice claims centered around the issue of informed consent. Perhaps your doctor didn't tell you that there was a risk of suffering a heart attack after your procedure. Perhaps your doctor didn't tell you that you would lose your bellybutton in a hernia operation. Or, maybe you didn't know that a medication your doctor prescribed was experimental and there was a chance it could seriously harm you.

When you agree to move forward with a medical procedure, or agree to take a medication, but your doctor hasn't given you all of the pertinent facts, in medical terms, you have not actually given permission because you didn't agree to the treatment while knowing all of the potential consequences.

Did your physician fail to fulfill his or her legal duty to fully inform you about the medical procedure and treatments you submitted to? Did you know what you were getting into, but your doctor was negligent or made unforgivable mistakes while administering treatment? You may want to look deeper into your matter to determine if your situation merits the pursuit a legal claim.

Source: Findlaw, "Medical Malpractice FAQ," accessed May 18, 2018

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