Patients in Pennsylvania generally must place their trust in their physicians when it comes to their medical care. This trust is usually well-deserved, as physicians have the education and experience required to make these treatment decisions. However, physicians also have a responsibility to make sure that their patients do not agree to any non-emergent medical procedure without having a basic understanding of the treatment. Performing a procedure without informed consent from the patient is a form of medical malpractice.
What is informed consent?
Most patients are not medical professionals and therefore do not usually have the knowledge required to determine whether a treatment or procedure is right for them. That is where a physician is required to step in and explain the treatment in a way the patient can understand. The physician will need to consider the patient’s ability to understand the information and provide them with information regarding:
- Diagnosis of patient’s condition
- Purpose of recommended treatment
- Risks of treatment
- Benefits of treatment
- What may happen if treatment is delayed or refused
- Possible alternatives to treatment (if any)
Once the physician has given the patient the necessary information, the patient may then give their informed consent to the treatment. Generally, informed consent must be given before most tests, treatments, and procedures, but is not required in emergency situations where care is immediately necessary.
Failure to obtain informed consent before treating a patient may be considered medical negligence. An attorney specializing in medical malpractice issues can help determine if you have a strong claim against your doctor after receiving a treatment you did not agree to.