Doctors Must Warn Patients on Health Risks Associated with Treatment
Patients always have the ultimate decision regarding whether or not they will undergo a particular treatment. Even if healthcare providers disagree with the patient’s decision, they are obligated to respect it.
However, doctors must always ensure that the patient’s decision is an informed one. Their responsibility is to notify patients on the risks of a particular treatment, medication, procedure or test, and then obtain the informed consent of the patient before they proceed (or do not proceed). If physicians do not provide all applicable warnings, they could be considered negligent in a potential medical malpractice claim.
Any discussion that occurs between a doctor and a patient regarding a potential procedure or test should include the following points:
- The patient’s diagnosis, if the doctor has been able to make one
- The purpose, risks and benefits associated with potential tests, procedures or treatments
- Any alternatives that exist, regardless of cost or insurance status, as well as the risks and benefits
- The risks and benefits that would come with refusing to undergo any test, procedure or treatment
There are certain exceptions in which the patient does not have to be the individual to give consent. For example, parents may give consent for their minor children. If an adult is incapacitated and unable to make his or her own decisions, then a person with durable power of attorney for healthcare could also give consent.
There are also exceptions that occur in emergency situations when a doctor must act quickly to save the life of a patient. In these situations, the physician typically does not have the time to get consent from the patient or family members before taking life-saving measures.
For more information on how to proceed in a failure to warn case, consult a trusted Brooklyn medical malpractice lawyer by calling Rubenstein & Rynecki at 718-522-1020 or by contacting us online today.