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What should I know about informed consent?

Perhaps the most important right of a patient is to be able to make his or her own choices regarding medical treatment. This right is part of the concept of informed consent. If you are to make the best decisions concerning your health, your Connecticut physician should give you all the information you need so you can make those choices.

As emedicinehealth.com explains, informed consent occurs when a doctor provides information about a medical treatment to a patient, coupled with the statement that the patient can give voluntary consent or deny it and refuse the treatment. This same standard also applies to many medical tests, although for a large number of doctor-patient interactions like physical exams, consent is considered implied and does not need to be formally given.

In some cases, informed consent must take on a written form, particularly if there is an increase in risk to the patient or the test is more explicit in nature. This may occur when a doctor proposes an invasive test or a delicate operation, or for procedures that may require risky treatments in the event of a sudden complication or a discovery made during an operation.

Exceptions do exist to informed consent, but they fall under emergency circumstances when a doctor needs to take action to save a person’s life. An auto accident victim, for instance, may be rendered unconscious and is suffering heavy bleeding and organ damage. It is impossible under such circumstances to give consent. The doctors in that situation would be instead focused on saving that person from death.

However, for most medical situations, you remain the one in charge of your treatment. If a doctor fails to provide informed consent for a treatment, it is considered a form of assault under law. A lack of informed consent could also result in serious bodily harm if the treatment was not warranted for your condition.

Because cases of medical malpractice are wide and varied, you should not consider this article as offering any legal advice. It is written to educate Connecticut residents on informed consent and medical malpractice.

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