Informed consent is an important part of the doctor-patient relationship. Patients should be able to trust and rely on their doctors to use their extensive training and experience to heal them. That does not mean patients should be left in the dark when it comes to making medical decisions.
Informed Consent is an important part of the doctor-patient relationship
Proper informed consent is a critical part of promoting patient safety. It ensures that doctors explain what their patient’s health condition is and what treatments are available. Patients are not simply agreeing to a treatment or procedure, they should have a reasonable amount of information so that they can decide whether the treatment is right for them.
Before any treatment or procedure a patient should understand:
- The patient’s current medical condition.
- Why procedure or treatment being proposed.
- Who will be performing the procedure and what their qualifications are?
- The risks of the proposed treatment or procedure.
- Any reasonable alternative procedures and treatments.
- The chances that the procedure or treatment will be successful.
- The expected recovery time.
- What the recovery period will entail (bed rest, therapy, crutches, etc…)
- The cost of the procedure or treatment and whether it will be covered by the patient’s insurance.
Patients should have an opportunity to ask their doctor(s) any questions that they have about the proposed treatment. Further, they should also have an opportunity to talk with their family members and any significant others about the treatment or procedure being suggested. Patients should also have a chance to get a second opinion if they feel the situation warrants it. Patients should also always be able to request a copy of any form they sign.
After a patient has given informed consent, a doctor and/or hospital must limit the scope of the procedure accordingly. Doctors can take reasonable actions to respond to any emergency or unexpected situation that may arise during the procedure. However, doctors can’t assume that the patient would have agreed to a different or additional treatment. exceeding the scope of the consent given by a patient can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Often times the forms signed by patients at the hospital or in the doctor’s office feel like a formality. Despite being provided routinely, consent forms are a very important part of any treatment patients receive. Giving informed consent means a patient understands the procedure and the rationale for it and has given his or her permission for the doctor to proceed. In a healthy doctor-patient relationship, patients should always feel like they are in control of any decision affecting their health.