There are no guarantees in medical practice. A procedure that has had a 0% complication rate for a physician historically could result in catastrophic failure one day. As a patient, you need to have accurate information so that you can decide what treatment to undergo.
Your doctor has an obligation to inform you about certain risks and considerations when they recommend treatment. Especially if they recommend aggressive treatment, like surgery, when other treatment is available or refer you out for treatment still in the research stages, you need to give informed consent before undergoing treatment.
Doctors sometimes fail to secure informed consent and thereby open themselves up to claims from patients later.
What is informed consent?
For a patient to offer informed consent, the situation must meet certain criteria. First, the individual must be an adult with the capability of making legally-binding decisions. Secondly, the individual must understand the benefits and possible risks associated with a treatment or procedure.
Information that patients should receive includes success and failure rates, common side effects and less common catastrophic side effects associated with the procedure. Doctors who don’t tell patients about the likelihood that the treatment will fail or the potential for catastrophic side effects may not have secured informed consent even though they had the patient sign paperwork saying they understood the risks.
Giving you a pamphlet simply isn’t enough
Doctors may try to gloss over the informed consent process because they don’t want to waste time discussing possibilities, like a worst-case scenario. They might tell you to look something up online or hand you a pamphlet during your consultation.
However, you need to know that information to decide if the treatment is worth the risk. A doctor does you a real disservice when they do not tell you about the likelihood that the treatment will work and the possibility that something could go wrong. If a doctor did not provide you with accurate information about a treatment and you suffered adverse consequences, you may be in an actionable position.
You could potentially bring a medical malpractice claim against the physician or the medical facility that employs them because they failed to secure your informed consent. Learning more about medical malpractice claims can help you fight back after a poor outcome for your treatment.