As a patient, you have a basic legal right to make decisions regarding your own medical care. Under the theory of informed consent—which emphasizes the importance of patient autonomy—medical providers have a responsibility to ensure that you understand the nature and risks of a proposed type of treatment. Lack of informed consent could give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Below, our Buffalo medical malpractice attorneys provide a more comprehensive overview of informed consent in New York.
Informed Consent: Defined
As described by the American Medical Association (AMA), informed consent is fundamental to both medical ethics and medical law. It is the process of a medical provider being granted patient permission in the knowledge of the risks and benefits of a proposed procedure. There are four key principles of informed consent:
- A medical professional should clearly describe the nature of the proposed intervention;
- The patient’s role in the decision-making process should be emphasized;
- Medical professionals should discuss reasonable alternatives to the proposed intervention; and
- The risks of the medical intervention should be explained to and understood by the patient.
In practice, informed consent can be complicated. One of the primary challenges is that it is not always possible for a doctor to obtain informed consent. For example, in a medical emergency, immediate action may be required. Beyond emergencies, there are also sometimes questions about what exactly medical professionals should disclose prior to initiating treatment.
When Does Lack of Informed Consent Lead to a Malpractice Claim in New York
A patient who suffered harm or complications after a doctor failed to obtain informed consent may be entitled to financial compensation through a malpractice claim. Under New York’s medical negligence laws, a claim on the grounds of lack of informed consents requires the patient proving the following four things:
- A doctor failed to fully disclose alternative courses of treatment and/or the foreseeable risks associated with the proposed intervention;
- A reasonably prudent doctor placed under the same circumstances would have made additional disclosures;
- A reasonable patient placed under similar circumstances may have opted for an alternative course of treatment; and
- The patient suffered actual harm as a consequence of not being given the opportunity to provide informed consent.
To summarize, you may have a medical malpractice claim based on lack of informed consent if you suffered harm because the risks/alternatives were not properly disclosed and you were denied an opportunity to select a different treatment option. Due to the highly technical nature of malpractice claims, expert witness testimony is often a key aspect of any legal case.
Call Our Buffalo Medical Malpractice Lawyers Right Away
At Richmond Vona, LLC, our New York medical negligence attorneys are committed to treating every client with dignity, respect, and the highest level of professional service. If you have questions about informed consent, we can help. To set up a free, completely confidential consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, please contact us today by calling, (716) 300-5885. We handle malpractice claims throughout Western New York, including in Niagara Falls, Rochester, Geneseo, East Aurora, and Fredonia.