What Is Informed Consent?

Informed consent is the open disclosure of all risks and benefits a medical procedure may entail, whether that procedure is surgery or involves medication. Informed consent is an important part of medical practice. It’s also important when considering your case’s details if you wish to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

It can be challenging to understand exactly what informed consent means and how it affects your situation. This is why many speak with an attorney for legal help, guidance, and advice when it comes to understanding informed consent.

Informed Consent Is an Important Part of Doctor-Patient CommunicationInformed Consent

To move ahead with a certain medical treatment, medication, etc., the doctor must get written confirmation of the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a procedure. Before accepting a medical intervention, you, as the patient, have the right to know the following:

  • Diagnosis: The nature of your illness or injury
  • Purpose: The purpose of the treatment, procedure, or medication the doctor is proposing
  • Risks: Any potential risks that could be involved with the proposed treatment, procedure, or medication
  • Benefits: All benefits involved with the proposed treatment, procedure, or medication
  • Alternatives:
    • Alternatives to the proposed treatment, procedure, or medication that you could pursue instead
    • Any potential risks that could be involved with alternative treatments, procedures, or medications
    • All benefits involved with alternative treatments, procedures, or medications
    • Any potential risks of not undergoing the proposed treatment or procedure
    • All benefits of not undergoing the proposed treatment or procedure

The Purpose of Informed Consent

Informed consent’s purpose is to ensure the patient plays an active role in the decision-making process of their health care. By disclosing all the potential risks and benefits that a medical procedure and/or treatment may entail, the health care professional(s) ensures the patient can make an informed decision about their health care. Disclosing this information also opens the conversation, allowing patients to ask questions about their medical options so that they are informed.

Informed Consent in Nevada

Informed consent is legally required throughout the U.S., but it is important to understand some particularities in Nevada. Per the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct, informed consent “denotes the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.”

Why Is Informed Consent Necessary?

In Nevada, as well as all U.S. states, informed consent is an ethical obligation and a legal requirement medical professionals must fulfill.

According to the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics in AMA Ethical Opinion 8.08, “The full disclosure of relevant information to patients is intended to protect each patient’s right to self-determination, bodily integrity, and to protect his or her voluntariness in the healthcare decisionmaking process.”

Informed Consent and Medical Malpractice Claims

If you are in a position where you wish to pursue a medical malpractice claim, it’s important to consider the topic of informed consent. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, your claim must be founded on an injury. This could be, for example, a brain injury, wrongful death, illness, paralysis, or other forms of injuries.

The severity and the circumstances of an injury can vary. Examples of medical malpractice claims that often involve issues with informed consent include catastrophic injuries and hospital-acquired infections.

Catastrophic Injuries

First, it’s important to understand what a catastrophic injury is. It is an unexpected wound or condition that occurs suddenly. A catastrophic injury also drastically impacts the victim’s life. For example, people with these kinds of injuries often need long-term medical care.

A catastrophic injury could be:

  • Brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Neurological disorders
  • Paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Loss of cognitive and/or communicative abilities

Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)are infections a patient contracts during their hospital stay. It is an infection not directly related to their current diagnosis or condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 31 hospital patients has an HAI while receiving treatment in a health care setting. They are also among the leading causes of hospital patient deaths in the United States.

Informed Consent and Catastrophic Injuries in Nevada

If you or a loved one suffered a catastrophic injury and wish to pursue a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consider informed consent. For example, informed consent is important to consider if the catastrophic injury resulted from a medical error or medical malpractice.

What many people don’t know is that doctors and other medical professionals can still be held responsible for injuries that result from a certain medical treatment, procedure, etc., even if they received the patient’s informed consent. To that end, if you suffered a catastrophic injury, remember that you may still be able to pursue a malpractice claim, even if you gave informed consent.

Informed Consent and Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs)

If you or a loved one was the victim of a hospital-acquired infection for which you wish to pursue a medical malpractice claim, the topic of informed consent is again important.

In many cases, a lack of informed consent can be the reason a patient caught an HAI. Consider the following example:

  • Suppose the patient is not adequately informed that there is a potential risk for infection while being treated in a hospital.
  • This patient is particularly prone to a staph infection, but they forgot to tell their doctor that upon their arrival at the hospital.
  • Without the right information at hand, extra measures were not taken to help protect the patient from falling victim to an HAI.

It’s also important to remember, however, that not all HAIs are the result of malpractice and, therefore, may not be considered malpractice. Our attorney can help you determine your best steps forward.

We Can Help You Understand Informed Consent in Your Nevada Case

Understanding informed consent is important, but it can be complicated, too. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or were the victim of a medical error, medical practice, or another issue you believe is related to informed consent, seeking legal guidance and advice can help you understand your next steps for moving forward.

For help with understanding informed consent in medical matters in Nevada, reach out to De Castroverde Accident & Injury Lawyers today for a consultation.