Does Signing a Consent Form Waive Your Right to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medicine is an incredibly complex field, and patients might have a difficult time understanding the treatments they will receive and the risks that could be involved. Whenever you go to a doctor to receive treatment for a medical condition, you have the legal right to be fully informed about the treatment that will be provided and the risks and complications that are associated with the treatment. You must give informed consent before a doctor provides treatment to you. You should be given a consent form that lists the known risks and complications, and a doctor or another health care professional should explain these risks and answer any questions you might have before you agree to undergo the treatment.
Your legal right to be fully informed about the treatment you will receive and the risks involved might make you wonder whether you can file a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania if you did give informed consent. Your consent to treatment does not mean that you will not have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. You do not waive your rights to hold a doctor liable for malpractice by signing a consent form. The medical malpractice attorneys at Raynes & Lawn have provided the important things you should know about informed consent and medical malpractice claims below.
What Is Informed Consent?
It is important for you to understand informed consent and how it works in Pennsylvania. Informed consent refers to your right to be informed about your treatment and its potential risks and complications. It also involves you having the ability to ask any questions you might have about the treatment that has been recommended so that you can make a better-informed decision about your care. Informed consent involves the following three elements listed below.
The Right to Full Disclosure
You have the right to full disclosure of all of the relevant information about the treatment your doctor has recommended. This includes a description of the treatment, its known risks and complications, and any alternatives that might be available. Not every possible risk must be included. However, a risk that is known and has been reported in the medical literature should be included in the consent form.
The Requirement of Competence
Before you can consent to treatment, you or the person who has been appointed to make medical decisions for you must be legally competent to make decisions. This means that if you have been found to be incompetent by a court because of a mental condition, you cannot consent to treatment. Similarly, if you are intoxicated or in a coma, you cannot give informed consent.
The third element of informed consent is that your decision must be voluntary and genuine. If a doctor coerces you into agreeing to the treatment, your decision is not voluntary. A decision made under duress or coercion does not qualify as giving informed consent.
Informed consent can be complex, and it is not uncommon for patients to be confused about how it works. If you have questions about informed consent and how it might apply in your case, you should contact a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney at Raynes & Lawn for help.
Consent Is Not a Liability Waiver
Nearly all medical procedures come with risks. When you sign a consent form, you acknowledge that you understand the risks of the treatment that has been recommended to you and that you consent to undergo it despite the potential risks. This makes it important for you to carefully review an informed consent form and weigh the risks versus the benefits of the proposed medical intervention.
However, signing a consent form does not waive your right to pursue a medical malpractice claim or absolve a doctor of his or her liability if he or she commits medical errors that harm you. Doctors, other health care professionals, and hospitals cannot ask you to sign a medical malpractice liability waiver. If a liability waiver is signed, a court will disregard it. While you accept the potential risks of treatment when you sign a consent form, this does not mean that you also accept the risk that your doctor will engage in malpractice and injure you.
Factors That Must Be Considered
If you were injured after you signed an informed consent waiver, you might still be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible parties. There are several factors your attorney will consider when determining whether your claim has merits, including the following:
- Was your initial diagnosis correct?
- Did the doctor accurately and clearly explain the risks associated with the proposed treatment?
- Did the doctor or another health care professional make mistakes during the delivery of your treatment?
- Did each medical professional provide care that met the accepted standard of care?
When a medical procedure goes wrong, it is important for you to talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn about your rights and the potential remedies that might be available to you. Informed consent waivers are meant to ensure that you understand the risks and accept them when you undergo treatment, but they do not work to indemnify the physician, hospital, or other health care professionals against medical malpractice liability.
Get Help from a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney
Even if you signed an informed consent waiver, it does not mean that you do not have the right to pursue a medical malpractice claim. Whether a doctor, hospital or another health care provider or medical facility might be liable for medical malpractice will depend on whether the care you received met the accepted standard of care or deviated from it. The attorneys at Raynes & Lawn can review your potential claim and evaluate it so that you can understand whether you might have been the victim of medical malpractice. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.
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