What is Informed Consent?

In nearly all situations in which medical care will be given, a doctor or other type of medical professional must obtain informed consent from the patient. Of course, there are exceptions to this, particularly if there is an emergency situation, if a patient is unconscious, or if the patient is of unsound mind and unable to make their own medical decisions. However, in all other scenarios, the patient should be informed about their condition, the proposed treatment, as well as alternatives to the proposed treatment. If healthcare professionals fail to obtain informed consent, this could constitute medical malpractice. Here, we want to specifically define informed consent and discuss what can happen if a doctor fails to obtain this consent from the patient.

Understanding Informed Consent in Oregon

Every patient has the right to be fully informed about their options before they give consent to any non-emergency medical treatments. Before a medical professional treats a patient, they are required to inform the patient about all of the known risks and benefits associated with the procedure. Additionally, they should let them know about any alternative treatments that are available.

In Oregon, medical professionals are held to a certain standard of care concerning informed consent. This means that a doctor needs to tell a patient the same thing that another “reasonable” doctor would tell the same patient under similar circumstances.

An Example of a Lack of Informed Consent

One of the most common examples of a lack of informed consent involves medical professionals not telling a patient about the known risks associated with the procedure they will undergo. This may not seem like a big deal, particularly if the procedure is successful. However, if a patient does suffer from a known risk that they did not know about, this could become a case of lack of informed consent causing an injury.

There are also times when a medical professional performs a procedure that is different from the one that the patient actually agreed to. In these cases, the patient will clearly lack informed consent because they had no idea about this different procedure. Of course, there are times when a medical emergency arises after a planned procedure is underway and a medical professional has to make a quick decision about what to do next. In these situations, alternative procedures can generally be performed without obtaining consent.

What Happens if There is no Informed Consent?

If a medical professional fails to obtain informed consent from patient, this could lead to a case of medical malpractice. In order for something to be considered medical malpractice, it needs to be proven that the negligence of a medical provider caused harm to a patient. That means that, however wrong a doctor or surgeon may have been for not obtaining informed consent, it may be hard to prove malpractice if the patient suffered no actual injuries or illness.

However, if a patient does suffer harm as a result of a procedure and they had given informed consent before the procedure took place, they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the alleged negligent medical professional or facility.

It is strongly recommended that any medical malpractice victim seek assistance from a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Informed consent medical malpractice cases can become very complicated, but an attorney can use their resources to conduct a complete investigation into the incident, determine liability, and help the victim secure the compensation they are entitled to.