Proper consultations in the medical field are absolutely necessary to prevent claims of medical malpractice against the performing surgeons and physicians. Before a doctor performs a non-emergency procedure or administers treatment, they must get consent from the patient. However, just getting a yes from the patient is not enough. New Jersey physicians are obligated to explain various aspects of the medical procedure in a way that the patient can understand, before the patient can legally consent.
What is required for informed consent?
Obtaining informed consent is more complicated than just stating the name of the procedure or treatment and asking if the patient consents. While the specifics change based on the state law, informed consent generally requires the doctor to provide information to the patient regarding:
- The patient’s medical condition
- Treatment options for the patient
- The advantages and risks of each treatment option
- The consequences of not getting treatment
- The patient’s prognosis
This information must be presented in plain language, in a way that a patient who is not in the medical field would understand. Additionally, the patient must be competent enough to make an informed decision. There is a legal presumption that adults are competent, but if an adult is incapacitated or legally incompetent due to mental illness or another impairment, this presumption can be challenged. Minors are legally presumed as incompetent and the minor’s parent or legal guardian will have to give consent on their behalf.
Unauthorized treatment can be a form of medical malpractice
If a patient can show that they did not give informed consent to a procedure or treatment administered by a doctor, that they would not have consented if they had all the information, and that they suffered injury as a result of the procedure, the patient may have a valid claim against the doctor and hospital for medical malpractice. An attorney specializing in medical malpractice can review your case and help determine whether you have a valid claim for damages.