The Components of Informed Consent March 9, 2023.
Informed consent is an important element of medical care. It is a fundamental patient right, guaranteeing that you understand your treatment, condition, and options, putting you in charge of your care.
It is also a legal right under Ohio law and part of the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics. The goal is to ensure that you can make an informed decision about your medical treatment.
The informed consent process involves four components ensuring you have a full understanding of the situation and what your agreement means. While giving your approval should occur in most medical situations, there are also some exceptions that help to protect you.
Failure to get consent and follow the proper rules concerning it falls under medical malpractice. You may be able to seek compensation for the harm that occurred due to a medical professional not abiding by informed consent laws.
The 4 Basic Elements of Informed Consent
Under Ohio Revised Code Title 23 Section 2317.54, which outlines the state's informed consent laws, there are four basic elements required to have full agreement from you for medical procedures. If your healthcare provider does not follow all four points, it could constitute medical malpractice because it does violate professional standards.
1. Decision-Making Capacity
You must sign a consent form for it to be valid. To do this, you need to be the decision maker and have the legal capacity to agree to such disclosure. If you are under the age of 18, your parent, guardian, or person to whom your parent has given written authorization must sign for you.
Additionally, if you are incapacitated in any way and unable to give consent, someone else who has legal authority may do so for you. It is up to the healthcare provider to determine if you have the capacity to understand the agreement, what it means, and how it will impact you.
2. Explanation of Facts, Benefits, and Risks
The doctor or other medical professional must provide you with a complete explanation of the facts of your medical situation. The discussion must include offering you information about alternative procedures, foreseeable risks, and what will happen during the procedure.
Your doctor should also explain why you need the treatment, including clear details on your diagnosis, and the potential risk of not going through with the recommended course of action. They should also discuss with you other possible options that have minimal risks if any. You should have the chance to discuss all alternatives or why there may not be any other options if that is the case.
You have the right to ask pertinent questions, including what is informed consent, if you do not understand. The provider should give you a clear informed consent definition and ensure you know what it means to give consent.
This element is incredibly important because it is at the heart of giving informed consent. You cannot provide approval for something if you do not understand what it is. Your healthcare provider must be confident that you are not confused or unclear in any way about what is happening with your current medical situation.
Errors during this part of the process most often lead to problems down the road. If you do not know what could result or how this procedure could impact you before you give the go-ahead, your doctor has not properly secured your informed consent.
3. Facilitation of Understanding
It is your healthcare provider's responsibility to clear up any questions or concerns you have and to ensure you have all the necessary information to make an educated decision. If you do not appear to be clear on why they need informed consent, the doctor needs to continue discussing the situation until you completely understand. It is completely the responsibility of the professional to ensure you have no further questions and that your understanding of what will or might happen is completely clear.
4. A Voluntary Decision
Nobody should pressure you into signing an informed consent document. You must do so voluntarily. You should have the option to consider the situation and the proposed treatment before you sign anything.
Voluntary consent is an important part of the process because it allows you to retain control over your medical care and prevents others from pushing procedures on you. In addition, just because you sign a consent form doesn't mean you cannot later change your mind. You maintain control over all your healthcare decisions regardless of giving consent.
Is Informed Consent Required for All Medical Treatment?
The informed consent healthcare process should allow for patient autonomy. It should put you in charge of your care. However, there are situations where a medical professional can go ahead with treating you without your consent.
Typically, you can expect to give your agreement for procedures whenever there is any risk. Still, emergency situations may not allow the time or ability for you to do this. If you cannot give consent due to incapacitation and there is nobody available who could give consent for you, doctors may have to move forward with administering medical treatment.
Above all else, the goal of your caregivers is to ensure you get any lifesaving help even if you cannot agree to the procedures. This often means that they have to bypass getting consent to ensure you do not die.
Note that healthcare providers should do everything possible to get informed consent before they proceed without it. The situation involves ethical and legal rules. So, they need to take steps to do what it takes to get approval before proceeding, but there are exceptions that allow them to make a professional decision to move ahead without securing an agreement for treatment.
We're Here To Help You Understand Your Rights
Despite the legal and ethical requirements concerning informed consent, some medical caregivers do not abide by the rules. If you become a victim of a healthcare situation where you received treatment without giving your consent, then you may have a medical malpractice case.
We have almost 40 years of experience helping people like you. We gather the applicable medical records and investigate the situation to determine how the healthcare facility violated your rights and put together a solid case to fight for you in court.
It is our job to help maximize compensation and to make the situation right for you. We are committed and dedicated to standing up against careless medical care that caused you harm.
Contact us at Mellino Law today to discuss your case.