What is Informed Consent?
Informed consent is the act of providing medical patients with crucial information regarding a medical procedure, treatment, genetic testing, or clinical trial.
This includes discussing potential risks and benefits to help the patient make an informed decision.
Medical professionals must thoroughly explain the risks of a medical procedure before performing it and then obtain the patient’s consent.
Informed consent is a crucial step in the medical process, as it ensures that patients have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their own health and well-being.
When Informed Consent Is Not Required
There are a few exceptions to the informed consent rule:
- Medical Emergencies: In a medical emergency, a physician must act quickly to save a life, and there is no time to explain the risks involved. The patient cannot sue for lack of informed consent in this situation, even if they would not have agreed to the treatment.
- Distressed Patients: If a doctor determines that a patient is emotionally fragile and may refuse needed treatment, informed consent may not be required. For example, if a brain tumor is life-threatening and its removal carries the risk of frightening outcomes such as paralysis, the doctor may need to be less detailed in describing the risks.
If disclosing too much detail about a necessary medical procedure may make an already frail patient sick with anxiety, the doctor may be able to withhold some information.
Medical professionals will decide how much information to disclose based on the particularities of each patient. However, they need to demonstrate why the risks were not disclosed.
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