What Is Informed Consent, and Why Is It Important?


Hand signing informed medical consent form in hospitalGoing to a hospital or an emergency healthcare provider can be an overwhelming experience for many people. Often, you’re asked to fill out reams of complicated paperwork while you are in pain. You sign insurance documents, waivers, and other medical forms, including one stating you give your informed consent agreeing to the procedure that is about to take place. But did the doctor or healthcare provider have a sincere conversation with you? Did you have the requisite information needed to give your consent? Were you a victim of hospital negligence?

Informed consent violations by a medical professional can lead to emotional distress, wrongful death, loss of consortium, and a long list of medical malpractice injuries. You can become a victim of surgical errors, emergency room negligence, misdiagnosis, and more. Still, too many doctors believe that informed consent is a piece of paper signed by the patient — a waiver hidden in a stack of documents that relieves them of all liability should the procedure go wrong. But informed consent is much more than that.

Informing the patient to receive their consent means having a genuine conversation with them and building trust through a sincere doctor-patient relationship. If you or your loved ones suffer from injuries or emotional distress stemming from negligence caused by informed consent violations in Washington D.C., an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help. When a healthcare professional ignores their duty of care by not having a proper conversation with you, the broken trust can have real and lasting effects. You deserve compensation for your pain, suffering, and injuries.

How Informed Consent Should Work in Washington D.C.

Informed consent is not a legal waiver or a get-out-of-jail-free card for doctors. The process is meant to build trust and understanding between doctors and patients so that all concerned parties can have a voice in the ultimate medical outcome. According to the American Medical Association, healthcare professionals should go beyond having patients sign a form. “[Informed consent] is a process of communication between a patient and physician that results in the patient’s authorization or agreement to undergo a specific medical intervention,” the AMA writes.

The AMA outlines several specific points that a doctor should discuss with their patient, designed to make the process inclusive and give the patient a clear understanding of the procedure they will undertake. Under informed consent guidelines, as laid out by the AMA, an ethical medical professional should discuss a patient’s diagnosis, if it is known, and explain the reason for any upcoming procedure.

AMA guidelines also note that doctors should have a long and detailed conversation about the risks and benefits of the procedure. Such a conversation should include information about alternative treatments, the risks and benefits of alternative treatments, and the risks and benefits of not undergoing treatment.

Informed consent is essential and, when not done correctly or competently, can lead to medical malpractice. If you or a loved one were injured because a healthcare professional ignored their responsibility to have an honest conversation with you, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help.

Why Informed Consent Is So Important In Washington D.C.

While healthcare providers have the medical knowledge to make decisions about your wellbeing, they have a duty of care and a responsibility to inform and gain consent. Failure to do so or do so correctly can lead to medical malpractice, causing patients lifelong injuries that leave them unable to work or enjoy time with their families. When informed consent is appropriately reached, it benefits everyone. However, when a doctor simply has a patient sign a piece of paper, it can cause them a significant liability.

Medical malpractice lawsuits caused by a lack of informed consent can lead to a long list of damages. Patients may be able to seek compensation for loss of wages, medical bills, emotional distress and suffering, and more. A patient’s partner or loved ones may also have the right to sue for loss of consortium — meaning the partner no longer enjoys intimacy with the patient — or wrongful death.

Every medical procedure, operation, and hospital visit in Washington D.C. is an overwhelming experience. Doctors, nurses, and other medical workers can ease your worrying and calm your nerves by creating relationships built on trust. But when you or your loved ones suffer injuries or emotional distress due to negligence caused by informed consent violations, you deserve to be made whole again.

Understand that you are not alone. The medical malpractice attorneys at Regan Zambri Long will stand by your side every step of the way. Our team has a proven track record of negotiating high-dollar settlements and winning trial verdicts. If a medical professional ignored their duty of care with informed consent, call us at 202-960-4596 for a free consultation.