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How does informed consent relate to medical malpractice?

| Jan 2, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

It seems like common sense that a doctor or other medical professional in Illinois would have to ask for your permission before medically treating you. However, the issue of consent in the world of medicine is rarely that simple. Sometimes complications arise regarding whether the doctor obtained the patient’s informed consent before performing a procedure or administering treatment.

Informed consent generally requires a lot more than just asking for permission to treat. In order to get informed consent, the physician must first determine whether the patient is able to understand all the necessary medical information to make an informed decision. If the doctor finds that the patient incompetent and cannot decide on their own, the doctor must obtain consent from the patient’s guardian. Legally, minors are generally always presumed to be incompetent, and therefore, doctors must get informed consent from the minor’s parent or guardian.

Once it has been determined that the patient is able to make an informed decision, it is the medical professional’s job to present all relevant medical information in a way the patient can understand. The doctor should make sure that the patient understands their diagnosis, the risks and expected benefits of the treatment or procedure, and possible alternative treatments and the risks and benefits of each alternative. The patient should also be aware of the benefits and risks of refusing treatment altogether.

In an emergency where a physician does not have time to seek consent, they may perform treatment without prior informed consent. However, they must inform the patient as soon as possible and get consent for future treatment.

If a doctor does not obtain informed consent in non-emergency situations, he or she may be guilty of gross medical negligence. The patient could sue the doctor for medical malpractice and win damages if they can prove that the doctor treated or performed a procedure on them without informed consent and that they would have refused the treatment if they had been properly informed of the risks. If you believe your doctor administered medical treatment to you without informed consent in the Chicago area, there are professionals who can review your case and advise you on how to proceed.