Informed Consent in Massachusetts
When a person is considering certain medical treatment or surgical procedures, his or her medical team is not supposed to proceed without first obtaining what is called informed consent. Informed consent refers to a patient’s agreement to treatment after receiving an explanation of the procedure, its benefits and risks, alternatives, and more. When patients do not fully understand their proposed treatment, they may unwittingly agree to procedures that they would have otherwise avoided.
The attorneys of Crowe & Harris, LLP believe that doctors should work hard to fully inform patients of their options when seeking medical care. Failure to do so is disrespectful and even dangerous. Massachusetts victims of medical malpractice can trust Crowe & Harris, LLP to help them take action against this frustrating violation of rights.
What Counts as “Informed” Consent?
There are several things that typically must be included on an informed consent document to ensure that patients and their representatives are well aware of the different aspects of the proposed procedure. A patient must understand the following for the consent to count as informed:
- A description of the procedure
- A list of the potential dangers or risks of the procedure
- A description of possible positive outcomes
- The likelihood of success of the procedure
- A list of alternatives to the procedure
It is a physician’s or hospital’s duty to make sure that you understand these aspects of medical care before you proceed with treatment.
Failure by Doctor to Disclose Information
When receiving medical treatment, trust between a doctor and patient is pivotal to ensuring a smooth medical procedure and healthy recovery that has a low risk of surprise complications. It is not uncommon for patients to trust their doctor without hesitation. This makes it confusing and oftentimes painful when a doctor fails to supply vital information that results in a patient’s subsequent suffering.
Types of Medical Misinformation
The American Medical Association’s (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics states that doctors are ethically bound to disclose certain types of information to patients, including the exact nature of their condition, risks associated with their condition, and any medical errors made during operation or procedure.
However, for fear of litigation, doctors may sometimes fail to let patients know if mistakes were made during a procedure or if certain medical steps went awry. Although most doctors believe a patient should be informed immediately when a mistake is made during operation, this disclosure happens less than half of the time when serious incidents occur.
A doctor can fail to properly inform the patient in the following ways:
- Using specific language devoid of certain legal terms when disclosing information to avoid liability
- Withholding types of alternative treatment that may help the patient’s condition
- Failure to disclose risks associated when pre-op instructions are not followed
- Not informing the patient of medical measures taken that deviate from protocol
Although the doctor-patient relationship is often a formal and professional one, it is still fiduciary in nature and must rely on trust and transparency to function.
File an Informed Consent Lawsuit in Massachusetts
If you believe that your medical team did not obtain proper informed consent from you before a procedure, you may be able to hold the healthcare practitioner accountable for this medical malpractice. Contact the experienced lawyers of Crowe & Harris, LLP today at (617) 404-3417 to learn more about your legal situation.