Informed Consent

Informed Consent Alabama

Alabama Lack of Informed Consent Attorneys

Dedicated medical malpractice lawyers protecting injury victims

Part of a doctor’s duty to their patients is educating them on any recommended treatments and procedures. This is called “informed consent,” and if a medical professional fails to do this, they may open themselves up to medical malpractice. Doctors may not perform any type of procedure on a patient without their express permission and knowledge, and if they do so in Alabama, it is considered medical negligence.

If you underwent a medical procedure that you did not authorize, consent to, or if the treatment went beyond the scope of what you gave your doctor to do, your doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. The experienced attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm can consult with you about your potential case and discuss the extent of your injuries and losses. Read more and talk with us today.

What is informed consent?

The basics of informed consent can be boiled down to the simple communication between a doctor and their patient. It is a process that allows patients to get more information about their medical care and treatment, as well as ask their doctor questions and voice any concerns or worries. Informed consent is and should be much more than simply signing some forms before a procedure.

Your doctor or surgeon should sit down with you and explain your condition or illness, the treatment options available to you, the risks and potential side effects of those treatments and procedures, the possible benefits of a procedure, and what might happen if you do not receive these treatments or interventions. The failure to do so, and your suffering injury as a result, can be grounds for medical malpractice.

Although it is impossible to imagine every possible outcome and scenario, informed consent means disclosing the risks of a procedure in the manner that any other reasonable physician would do in the same circumstances.

How should a doctor obtain informed consent?

Doctors not only have an ethical duty to obtain informed consent. Under the Alabama Medical Liability Act of 1987, they also have a legal one. Too many doctors and surgeons view informed consent as merely a formality and a way to gain a patient’s signature on a form, rather than an open and two-way conversation about a patient’s health and treatment options. When a patient does not have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about their health, they may not be aware of potential serious complications or less invasive, alternative treatments.

Your doctor or their medical staff should document the informed consent procedure and keep it in your medical records. Typically you will sign a statement verifying that you understand the risks and benefits of your treatment or procedure. Remember, though, informed consent is more than just signing a piece of paper.

Proper informed consent should include all pertinent information about a plan of treatment and condition, and doctors must take certain factors into consideration:

  • Age and mental health of the patient
  • Education and literacy level of the patient
  • Relevant cultural factors
  • Timing of informed consent meeting; i.e. enough time for a second opinion

Medical professionals must explain treatments and procedures in a way that a layperson can understand – not medical jargon that can confuse a patient and/or their parent or guardian.

The American Medical Association (AMA) provides guidance to physicians on how to properly secure informed consent:

  • Assess the patient’s ability to understand the information as well as their ability to make an independent and voluntary decision
  • Present the information both accurately and sensitively, including information about the diagnosis, the nature and purpose of the treatment, and the risks and benefits of the treatment, including refusal of treatment
  • Document the informed consent conversation and the patient’s decision, with written consent included in the medical record

If you believe you were not properly informed, or did not give consent, concerning a medical procedure, talk to the Alabama injury attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm today.

Informed consent in an emergency

In emergency situations, a patient may not be able to give any sort of consent. The AMA notes, “In emergencies, when a decision must be made urgently, the patient is not able to participate in decision making, and the patient’s surrogate is not available, physicians may initiate treatment without prior informed consent. In such situations, the physician should inform the patient/surrogate at the earliest opportunity and obtain consent for ongoing treatment in keeping with these guidelines.”

If you or a loved one suffer injury or complications from emergency treatment, things can get complicated. Talk to our experienced medical negligence lawyers for guidance.

What treatments commonly require informed consent?

According to Healthline, the following procedures require informed consent from a patient:

  • Anesthesia
  • Blood transfusions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Most surgeries
  • Most vaccinations
  • Radiation
  • Some advanced medical tests, like a biopsy
  • Some blood tests, like HIV testing

What is the Patient’s Bill of Rights?

The original Patient’s Bill of Rights was developed in the late 1970s by the American Hospital Association. Over the years, as healthcare and consumer rights have changed, so have various patient bills of rights. Today, the Alabama Hospital Association lists the rights you have as a patient, including these eight key areas (summarized):

  1. Patient information. You have the right to both accurate and easy-to-understand information about your health care and treatment plan. If you speak a different language or have a disability, you should be provided with assistance so you can make an informed decision.
  2. Choice of provider. You have the right to choose a health care provider and plan to access quality health care.
  3. Access to emergency care. You cannot be denied emergency care if you are in severe pain, have an injury, or sudden illness that makes you believe your health is in danger – whenever you need it, regardless of insurance status.
  4. Taking part in treatment decisions. You have the right to be informed about treatment options, as well as be involved in decisions about your plan of care. Your doctor should inform you of risks and benefits, as well as the outcome of refusing treatment. You should also be informed of other available treatments.
  5. Non-discrimination. You have the right to compassionate care and respect from doctors and other health care providers, as well as the freedom from discrimination based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, or source of payment.”
  6. Confidentiality of health information. You have the right to keep your medical records and health information private, as well as the right to read and copy your own records. If there are mistakes or errors in your records, you also have the right to ask your doctor to correct them.
  7. Complaints or appeals. If you have a complaint against your doctor, health plan, or other health care personnel, you have the right to a fair and timely review of these issues.
  8. Consumer responsibilities. As a patient and consumer, you also have certain responsibilities. These include notifying your doctor about medications and supplements, health conditions, medical history, and any past surgical problems. If you have concerns or questions about a treatment or procedure, it is essential you ask your health care provider.

How do I recover compensation for my malpractice injuries?

For a successful medical malpractice case, you must show that your doctor or health care provider was liable for your injuries and failed in their duty of care. Our attorneys work to show the following elements:

  • Your doctor had a legal duty to obtain informed consent before a treatment or procedure
  • Your doctor failed to obtain informed consent
  • Had you had the proper information, you would not have consented to the procedure
  • You suffered an injury due to the treatment or procedure
  • You experienced losses or damages due to the injury

The team at Mezrano Law Firm works to gather evidence and documents supporting your claim, proving your injuries were caused by a lack of proper informed consent.

Lack of informed consent and medical malpractice lawyers

At Mezrano Law Firm, we represent victims of medical malpractice and fight for their right to compensation for their injuries. Look to us for the legal help you need. Call us at 205-206-6300 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery, Florence, and Gadsden.