Undergoing medical treatment or having a medical procedure performed is a scary experience for many people. Before you say yes to anything, you want to know exactly what to expect.
Your medical providers have a legal duty to make sure you understand your diagnosis, the potential treatment options and the risks and benefits of each. They also have a duty to tell you about the potential side effects of any medication they prescribe to you.
This is called informed consent. The idea behind informed consent is that you cannot consent to any treatment, medication or anything else related to your health without a full understanding of it.
Informed consent should come first
You can only give informed consent after you have had a conversation with your doctor or medical provider about what is happening. This conversation should take place before any treatment, tests or procedure.
Informed consent can be given verbally or in writing, although it is usually in writing. You might be asked to sign one form or a series of forms, depending on what you are having done.
Do not sign informed consent forms if you still have questions
You have a right to not sign the form if there are things about your medical care you do not understand. Do not let a medical provider rush you through conversations and then quickly ask you to sign a form.
If there is anything you do not understand, ask them to explain things again and ask any questions as needed.
Lack of informed consent can lead to serious consequences
Informed consent is a serious thing. Not getting informed consent from a patient is a form of medical malpractice.
Going through medical care without understanding the risks and benefits can have extremely dangerous effects.
For example, you may have declined to go through with surgery if you knew there was a chance you could be left with a permanent disability. If your medical provider did not tell you about this risk, there was a lack of informed consent.
It can be difficult to know if you gave informed consent, with all the different conversations and forms that are required for most medical treatments. Talking over your situation with a professional can help you learn if you have a case for medical malpractice.