The administration of medical treatment is a delicate process. While medical professionals should be willing to do everything they can to help their patients, they also need to operate within the bounds specified by those patients. In other words, doctors and nurses shouldn’t provide treatment that a patient hasn’t authorized unless it is an emergency situation. Doing so could cause harm to a patient with long-term consequences.
This is why doctors typically must obtain informed consent before providing medical care. The process of obtaining informed consent requires that a doctor discuss the diagnosis in question, the types of treatments available, the risks of those treatments and the risks of receiving no treatment at all. This may sound like common sense, but the truth of the matter is that far too often medical professionals fail to take appropriate steps to ensure that they have truly obtained informed consent.
There are many ways this failure can occur. To start, a medical professional may not thoroughly discuss the risks involved with an identified course of treatment. This includes downplaying the risks. In other instances, medical professionals fail to identify alternative forms of treatment that are available to a patient. In some of the most egregious cases, a doctor provides medical care that simply goes beyond the bounds of the consent that was given. This may mean performing a portion of an operation that was not agreed to by a patient or administering medication that was never discussed with a patient.
If harm results from a medical professional’s failure to obtain informed consent or his or her unauthorized treatment, then a medical malpractice lawsuit may be justified. Proving these cases can be tough, though, especially considering the fact that aggressive defense attorneys represent many doctors, nurses, and hospitals. Those attorneys will usually do everything they can to avoid liability. This is why medical malpractice victims need an equally aggressive advocate on their side to help them fight for the accountability and compensation they deserve.