Physicians may ask you to sign an informed consent document while under their care. An informed consent document, when signed, indicates the patient understands the potential risks and benefits of a proposed course of treatment and gives the health care provider permission to perform that service. Being asked to sign a consent form is typical whenever anyone agrees to a treatment plan.
Before you sign an informed consent document, however, make sure you have the answers to all your questions regarding treatment. The form is a legally binding document that affirms that you’ve gone through the process of informed consent. Regardless of whether everything listed on the form happened, if your signature is on it, you have provided affirmation that it did. In some cases, signing that document means you’re waiving the right to sue your physician in the event that something goes awry.
Many individuals sign consent forms without thinking twice, and most of the time everything turns out fine. The process of informed consent should include:
- Verbal or written communication about treatment risks and rewards,
- Information about options available to you, including not having a procedure performed,
- The time needed for you to ask questions and discuss your options with other parties, and
- An agreed upon plan that you and your doctor both understand.
Signing the form means that you agreed that this process took place, even if it didn’t; however, in certain situations you may still take legal action if problems arise. If you thought you had all the requisite information and later found out that your doctor did not disclose all the pertinent information, you may still have a legitimate legal claim.
If you do not sign a consent form, your provider may ask you to sign an informed refusal form. In the event that there is a question about your doctor’s practice later, the provider can use that form as evidence that they presented you with a treatment plan and that you refused it. As with the consent form, it’s important to ask and get answers to all the questions you have in order to make an informed decision about refusing your doctor’s recommendation.
Is Informed Consent Really Necessary?
In today’s world, doctors take medical malpractice very seriously. Informed consent keeps doctors from forgetting or glossing over details of a treatment plan and gives you enough information to understand the ramifications of your provider’s plan. Although it can be a hassle to complete these forms every time your doctor recommends treatment, they protect your rights and your doctor’s rights.
The only time informed consent is not really necessary is during an emergency or if a patient is emotionally distressed. Each instance of informed consent is different and will be reviewed individually in the event of a medical malpractice claim. In West Virginia, doctors should ask for informed consent signatures before conducting any medical procedure. Asking you to sign a document after a procedure has already taken place could render the document void.
At Tiano O’Dell, PLLC, we understand medical malpractice in West Virginia. If a medical procedure harmed you or someone you love, with or without informed consent, contact us to speak with a West Virginia medical malpractice lawyer today. We can provide the information you need to make a decision about taking legal action.