As a patient in need of treatment, you rely upon the expertise of a doctor or surgeon. At times you may literally place your life in their hands. However, entering their care does not give them a license to do as they please. It is your body, and you retain the right to say what happens to it.
What is informed consent?
One key principle doctors must adhere to is that of informed consent. As their patient, you must not only say yes, but you must understand what you are saying yes to. As the medical expert in the room, the doctor has a duty to explain things to you and make sure you understand.
What should a doctor do to get your informed consent?
These are some of the things a doctor must do before performing any treatment:
- Outline your choices: You always have a choice, even if the only option is to refuse the treatment.
- Explain the worst that could happen: Nothing is guaranteed. Rather than only emphasizing the positives or telling you not to worry, a medic must inform you of all the potential risks.
- Run through the procedure: You need to understand how the operation will play out and the timescale in which things will happen. Your doctor needs to answer all the questions you or your family have. Only then can you confirm your choice. Remember, you have every right to change your mind.
If you did not give a medical practitioner your informed consent, and their actions caused you harm, you might be able to claim compensation via a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even if you did give your consent, it may still be an option. Seek an attorney’s advice to understand more.