Can a Surgical Consent Form Affect a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Before undergoing a surgical procedure, patients generally sign a consent form acknowledging certain normal injury risks. However, a surgical consent form does not absolve the doctors of the hospital of liability if medical negligence causes harm. In this video, registered nurse and attorney Jaqueline Colclough explains what constitutes negligence and why you can still file a medical malpractice claim in spite of a consent form.
Clients come to us who have had an injury that they believe occurred during surgery. And they come to us and they ask questions about consent forms. Consent forms are routinely signed by patients and for the most part they pertain to consenting for surgical risks, meaning you have surgery on one part of the body and there might be an injury to an adjacent part of the body. They also consent to anesthesia risks, which could be a heart attack or stroke or a bad reaction to the anesthesia. All of those risks are generally covered in a consent form. Where a patient essentially will acknowledge that they have read the form, they’ve been advised of the risks by their surgeon or another health care provider, and they acknowledge those risks. Despite the fact that they acknowledge the risks, that does not absolve a healthcare provider if they’re negligent when providing the care in the surgical theater. So, even though a patient may consent or acknowledge the risk to an adjacent structure, if that structure is injured because of negligence, that consent form does not absolve the facility, or the surgeon or the healthcare provider from liability. The difference between negligence and something that happens when an event is just one of the risks is: with negligence it happened because of carelessness. A surgeon can be careful and a patient may be injured, and then in that case that’s not negligence. If a surgeon is not careful and a patient is injured, that could be negligence. It’s a very big difference. If you would like more information about our firm and who we are, you can visit our website at Our attorneys and staff can be reached at (202) 463-3030.