Understanding Informed Consent

Understanding Informed Consent

Informed consent describes a patient's knowing choice about a medical treatment or procedure, made after a physician or other health care provider discloses whatever information a reasonably prudent provider in the Ohio medical community would give to a patient regarding the risks involved in the proposed treatment or procedure.

In other words, Ohio's informed consent law asks whether the doctor provided the patient with a reasonable amount of information regarding treatment or surgery, including the risks and benefits. While it's OK for a physician to use his or her knowledge to make recommendations to patients, the doctor must disclose reasonable options so the patient can make the ultimate decision. If a health care provider fails to obtain informed consent, he or she may be legally responsible for damages.

Express And Implied Consent

People often misunderstand what legal "consent" actually is. A patient doesn't need to sign a piece of paper to give consent for many aspects of health care. While consent forms are a good idea - they afford a patient an opportunity to read about their legal rights before agreeing to something - a patient can also give consent orally. When a patient gives oral or written consent, it's known as express consent.

A patient can also give consent implicitly. Implied consent occurs when the circumstances of a situation demonstrate that a patient implicitly agreed to something. For example, perhaps a patient is under the effects of anesthesia during an operation, but the surgeon needs to unexpectedly perform a procedure in interest of the patient's safety. While the patient didn't expressly consent to this action, it's an accepted aspect of surgery that he or she implicitly consented to by agreeing to the underlying operation.

More Issues With Informed Consent

Informed consent isn't always straightforward. There are a lot of situations that allow health care providers to forgo consent, but each case must be examined while considering the unique circumstances involved.

Situations in which informed consent isn't always straightforward include:

  • Emergency situations rendering a patient unconscious or unable to communicate
  • When there's a risk of significant emotional or physical harm to the patient if he or she is given difficult information, consent may not be necessary.
  • Compulsory tests for communicable diseases or serious mental disorders when the testing is in the interest of the patient and public
  • Informed consent involving minors or people with severe mental impairment

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help answer your questions about informed consent. For a free consultation with a skilled Ohio lawyer, call The Donahey Law Firm at 866-918-5886 or contact us online.