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What is Informed Consent and Why Should You Care?

Have you ever wondered why your doctor tells you all of the worst things that can happen to you before you go through a medical procedure? He or she sits there, explaining that you could experience a list of horrible outcomes, including loss of a limb, stroke, blindness, coma, and even death. As you sit there and listen to all of these possibilities, you probably stop listening and think that it won’t happen to you. But, sometimes it can happen and this is why the doctor needs to explain it. In emergency cases where doctors must act quickly to save lives, informed consent is not necessary.

Informed consent is when you, as the patient, agree to a medical procedure after listening to – and understanding – all of the potential outcomes. The doctor is supposed to take this time to provide all relevant facts, including benefits, risks, possible outcomes, and alternative treatment options. This conversation is supposed to be a two-way discussion. The doctor should listen to your goals, answer your questions, and allow you the right to determine your course of treatment. Patients must also have the ability to make the decision: they must be able to fully understand the options and the consequences of their choices.

One other area of informed consent that is important to mention is ethics. A doctor has an ethical responsibility to inform patients of any benefit he or she receives as a result of a treatment. For example, if the doctor receives compensation for prescribing a drug, owns part of a surgery center, or is implanting a device on which commission can be earned, that should be disclosed.

If you feel that you have suffered an injury due to a lack of informed consent, contact us today to discuss your options.

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