When you seek medical care, you put your trust in the knowledge and experience of doctors and other health care staff. However, that does not mean they can do whatever they want. Before offering you any treatment, they need to make sure you know your options.
Many facilities ensure this step happens by having you sign a consent form that states you have received and understood information regarding treatment options, benefits and risks, along with your consent or refusal of the chosen treatment. This sounds good and straightforward, yet the process is not perfect and presents communication problems.
According to The Joint Commission, the most basic information was missing from consent forms nearly 75% of the time. How can patients make informed decisions without having even the simplest picture of what to expect? If any vital piece of information is missing, it may invalidate the form.
Getting you to sign the paper is not just another thing to cross off on your doctor's to-do list of your medical care. It should involve an in-depth discussion to ensure you truly comprehend the information you receive and that you get answers to all your questions, especially with all the legal and medical jargon on the forms. It is an on-going process, not a one-time event. It should continue as new health issues arise and new procedures become necessary.
No form for minor procedures
You may assume informed consent is only relevant to risky surgeries, but it also applies to even minor treatments such as stitches. Almost everything comes with the risk of side effects and with alternative choices.
Failure to follow protocol
In addition to talking with you about your treatment, the doctor must also follow the rest of the standards, such as having the correct witness sign the form and making sure the patient details are accurate. Any mistake could work in your favor in the event something goes wrong.