What is a lack of informed consent?

What does it mean when someone says that he or she didn't give informed consent to a medical procedure?

In general, it means that a doctor didn't give the patient the information necessary to make a decision about how he or she should proceed with medical treatment.

Doctors are supposed to act in a sort of partnership with their patients. While the doctor is the one with the medical training and a degree, it still doesn't qualify the doctor to make all a patient's decisions.

Ultimately, if you're the patient, you have to live with the results of whatever treatment is done or not done. Your doctor can advise you, but he or she should never keep any information from you or take away your right to choose your own treatment.

Frankly, a lot of people probably prefer to let their doctors make most of the decisions -- so some doctors may simply be used to patients that prefer to let the doctor call all the shots. In other cases, doctors, particularly specialists, may actually feel like patients can't possibly make an educated decision because the information they need to know is too technical for them to process. Finally, some doctors are just overbooked and too busy to bother giving patients all the information they need to make informed choices about their own future.

Any of these types of doctors can end up skipping that critical step in the treatment process.

If you end up suffering medical harm after a procedure or treatment (like a new medication or type of therapy), the question then becomes, "If you had known all that information, would you have agreed to the treatment anyhow?"

If the answer is, "No," you have the right to compensation for the injuries that you've suffered as a result of medical malpractice.

For example, imagine that your doctor proposes putting you on a medication for pain but fails to warn you that people can get addicted to that pain medication even if they use it the way it is prescribed. You agree to go on the medication, unaware of the risk -- and end up addicted to narcotics.

In a situation like that, you were robbed of you true ability to make a choice about your treatment because you didn't have all the information -- which would make it wise to learn more about your legal options.

Source: FindLaw, "Gross Negligence and Lack of "Informed Consent"," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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