There are risks and benefits to every medical treatment. The decision to move forward with a procedure, therapy, or medication should involve both you and your doctor carefully weighing the potential benefits against any risks. When a doctor moves forward without first securing your informed consent, you could be at risk for suffering harmful side effects from a procedure that, had you been aware of the dangers, would not have agreed to.
At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, our attorneys understand how informed consent works in New Mexico medical malpractice cases. Below we’ll explore what informed consent is, why it’s important, and how to prove that lack of informed consent contributed to your injuries.
What Is Informed Consent?
Patients in New Mexico have a legal right to make decisions about their own care. These decisions must be both informed and voluntary, meaning that they’ve received information about the benefits, risks, and nature of all their options. This includes the option to decline treatment.
A discussion about informed consent between you and your doctor should include the following information:
- The purpose of the treatment
- Whether there are any alternatives
- The expected outcome
- Possible side effects of the treatment
- Benefits and risks of not getting the treatment
After you and your doctor discuss the above topics, you will be required to sign a form acknowledging your informed consent. Your signature indicates that you received all of the relevant information related to the treatment options. This document should also detail which procedures you have elected to undergo and any that you have declined.
If you signed an informed consent form without ever discussing the benefits, risks, and alternatives of a given procedure, an attorney from Buckingham & Vega Law Firm is available to discuss whether you may have been put at unnecessary risk by your doctor.
Why Am I Required To Give Consent?
Informed consent is a crucial part of the health care process. The existence of the informed consent process acknowledges your right to play an active role in decisions regarding your health and wellbeing, including those that may potentially have an adverse impact on your condition.
Your doctor is also protected from certain legal action when they secure your informed consent. For example, if a surgeon failed to inform you of possible negative side effects that you later developed, you could file a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that you would not have agreed to the surgery had you known of the potential outcome.
When Is Informed Consent Needed?
You are required to give your informed consent prior to a variety of medical scenarios, including the following:
- Most surgeries
- Most vaccinations
- Blood transfusions
- Biopsies and other advanced medical tests
- Certain blood tests
You are always allowed to ask questions about a medical procedure or treatment that your health provider suggests. Do not allow your physician to rush you through an appointment if you are still unclear on the purpose, efficacy, or risks of a given treatment you are being prescribed.
At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, our medical malpractice lawyers recommend asking the following questions any time that your doctor prescribes a treatment:
- What condition am I being treated for?
- What is the purpose of the treatment?
- Are there any alternatives that might be just as effective?
- What are the possible side effects?
Are There Times When Informed Consent Is Not Needed?
Although informed consent is an essential part of the health care establishment, there are times when it may not be necessary, including:
- In emergency situations
- When a person is unconscious
- If a person’s life is in danger
There are also times when informed consent is not needed because there is implied consent. This type of consent is implied by your actions as a patient. For example, if you go to the doctor for a headache, that visit may represent your implied consent that you are seeking treatment.
Can I Revoke Consent?
It is within your legal right to change your mind after signing a consent to treat form. You may change your mind either before or after already starting your treatment, and should let your doctor know right away that you are no longer consenting.
Revoking your consent after treatment has concluded serves no purpose and will not help you establish a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, if you revoke consent at any point before or during the treatment, your attorney may be able to use that information to help construct your medical malpractice claim.
Why Does Informed Consent Matter in a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Case?
As a patient, you have the legal right to play an active role in the management of your own health. When a doctor does not secure informed consent before moving forward with a procedure or treatment plan, you are left without a say in your own care.
There are many surgeries, therapies, and medications that come with potentially devastating side effects. It is your right to decide whether you want to put yourself at risk in exchange for the potential benefits of a given procedure.
Any time that a doctor, surgeon, hospital, or medical facility fails to secure informed consent from a patient, they can be held responsible for adverse outcomes in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact the Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers of Buckingham & Vega Law Firm
As medical malpractice attorneys, we will show how things might have been different had you been properly informed of all potential risks associated with a treatment. We also regularly partner with medical experts in a variety of fields who can help substantiate these types of claims.
If you were harmed at the hands of a doctor or are unsure how informed consent works in New Mexico medical malpractice cases, do not hesitate to reach out to our Albuquerque office to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.