Every person has a right to the personal integrity of his or her body. No one should ever be forced, coerced or misled into having his or her bodily integrity violated, but especially when it involves health care procedures and the medical professionals we trust. Pennsylvania law recognizes this and requires that “informed consent” be given prior to medical procedures being performed.
People often only think of informed consent as the act of signing a piece of paper before undergoing a medical procedure; essentially, just officially agreeing to it. But informed consent is really more than this — it is much more nuanced.
Under Pennsylvania law, consent is informed when the patient is provided a description of the procedure along with the risks, benefits and alternatives. In other words, the patient must have the essential information a “reasonable prudent patient” would need to make the best decision possible about his or her health, including other available procedures or different doctors who may better perform the procedure.
Specifically, Pennsylvania law requires that patients provide informed consent, except for in emergency situations, prior to undergoing these procedures:
- Surgery, including anesthesia
- Radiation and chemotherapy
- Blood transfusions
- Medical device implementation
- Experimental medications, devices and procedures
Medical professionals can be held liable for failing to obtain informed consent from patients before performing procedures. As part of informed consent, doctors can be legally responsible if they “knowingly misrepresent” their “credentials, training or experience” relevant to making the best possible decision for patient health.
Before agreeing to undergo a medical procedure, make sure that you receive all the necessary information, especially the risks, benefits and alternatives. If a doctor has failed to provide you with any necessary information for making an important health care decision prior to the procedure, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about holding the doctor liable for his or her actions.