Informed Consent … What is it?

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Informed Consent … What is it?

When a patient says he signed or gave his informed consent, what does that mean? Does it mean that the patient does not have the right to sue if the doctor is negligent and causes injury?

A patient may sign a document indicating that he was advised of the material risks, benefits and alternative to a proposed treatment. It does not mean that the patient has given the doctor the consent to negligently treat the patient.

The document that a patient signs is called a Consent Form and it is an acknowledgement that the patient has been informed. Often times a piece of paper is put in front of a patient without any explanation as to the material risks, alternatives and benefits of the proposed procedure. Some times the form is presented for signature before the patient has an explanation as to the material risks and the alternatives to the procedure. This is not a valid attestation of consent because signing a form without the doctor explaining is legally invalid.

Okay, so what is informed consent? and does it mean that the doctor is not responsible if any injury occurs? Answer: No. The piece of paper that a patient signs is not an informed consent. Informed consent is the permission a patient gives to a physician to proceed with a recommended procedure after being provided with and understanding important information sufficient enough to make an informed decision whether to allow the proposed procedure to be performed. Giving informed consent and signing the consent form are not the same thing.

A patient can only give his informed permission to a physician after being provided with a explanation of the procedure, the material risks of the procedure, the alternative and after answering any questions the patient may have.

If there are alternatives to the proposed procedure the patient has the right to decide which alternative to select. No one can make a decision for the patient especially if the patient is competent and accepts the risks of the alternative treatment.

The signature on the consent form is to evidence the fact that an informed consent has been apparently obtained. The process requires communication by the physician to the patient otherwise the consent is invalid. Moreover, signing the document does not mean that if the physician was negligent that he is not responsible for the injuries caused even though a consent form has been signed.

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By David Kulwicki|2016-03-21T20:33:47+00:00July 18th, 2011|Informed Consent|Comments Off on Informed Consent … What is it?

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