What Does a Doctor’s Consent Form Do?
Every medical treatment involves risk, and doctors are required to explain the potential risks to their patients. If you’re injured while under a doctor’s care, it may or may not be medical malpractice, but you should discuss your rights with a Halifax medical malpractice lawyer.
The purpose of signing a consent form is to provide evidence that a doctor has properly explained the risks and benefits of a medical procedure to their patient in order to protect the doctor from allegations that the patient wasn’t told about certain risks. So if you are injured as a result of one of the risks listed on a consent form, that you signed, does that mean you cannot sue for those injuries?
If a doctor’s consent form was properly explained and signed, a patient may not be able to argue that they weren’t told about certain risks listed on the consent form that ended up happening during a medical procedure. However, it is important to understand that by signing a consent form, a patient is not consenting to negligent treatment! A consent form cannot be used as a defence to a malpractice claim if the treatment described in the consent form was performed negligently.
What are your rights if you have been harmed or injured while in a doctor’s care, or if that happens to you in the future? What steps will you need to take? When should you contact a Nova Scotia medical malpractice lawyer? Keep reading for the answers you may be seeking.
What Are a Doctor’s Responsibilities?
Doctors must fully inform patients about the potential risks of any proposed medical treatment or procedure. If a doctor does not have a patient’s informed consent for a treatment or procedure, and the patient is injured, the patient may have grounds to sue for medical malpractice.
A doctor should explain your condition, the proposed treatment, its risks, and your other treatment options and the risks associated with the other options. You can’t give informed consent without these facts. Every conceivable risk doesn’t need to be explained, but a doctor must explain the risks that a reasonable patient would want to know.
Six criteria for valid consent have been identified by Canadian courts:
- Consent has to be voluntary and genuine.
- The procedure must be legal.
- The consent has to authorize a specific treatment or care and a specific caregiver.
- The patient has to be legally capable of consent.
- The patient has to have the mental competency to consent.
- The patient has to be informed of the potential risks.
What Are a Patient’s Responsibilities?
Informed consent requires you to tell a doctor everything you know about your condition and your medical history as well as any other pertinent information. If you don’t, and if that omission leads to a treatment or diagnosis mistake, it will be your fault and not the doctor’s.
Additionally, doctors are not responsible when patients don’t follow their instructions and a post-treatment problem emerges as a result. However, you could be a victim of medical malpractice if:
- You’ve told the doctor everything you should, and you’ve followed the doctor’s advice.
- You then sustain an injury or suffer an illness during or after your treatment.
- The injury or illness was a known risk that you were not told about before the treatment, or
- You were told about the risk but the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.
When Should You Consult a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Most doctors take steps to reduce risks; they educate patients, have emergency personnel and equipment available during surgery, monitor patients comprehensively, and provide adequate and appropriate follow-up care.
Still, medical malpractice happens far too frequently in Nova Scotia, so if you are a victim of medical malpractice – now or in the future – promptly schedule a consultation to discuss your rights and options with a Halifax medical malpractice lawyer.
If a doctor was not negligent and took appropriate measures to reduce risk, but the patient nevertheless sustains an injury, the doctor may not have liability. But if a doctor did not maintain professional standards, he or she may in fact be liable for medical malpractice.
What is a Doctor’s Duty of Care?
Doctors owe a duty of care to their patients, and a doctor must provide the care that any reasonably skilled and competent medical professional with a comparable background would provide under similar circumstances.
Medical negligence is a medical professional’s failure to provide a patient with the accepted standard of professional medical care. For example, let’s say you feel sick, see a doctor, and that doctor writes a prescription for a drug to treat the symptoms that you have described.
If you use the drug and it harms you, and if other doctors with a similar practice would not have prescribed the same drug in a comparable situation, the doctor may be negligent and may be held liable for malpractice.
What Steps Will Your Medical Malpractice Lawyer Take?
If you move forward with a medical malpractice claim, your lawyer will examine the pertinent medical records, speak with any witnesses, and may consult with medical authorities. If the claim can’t be settled privately your lawyer will take the claim to trial.
To prevail with your claim at a medical malpractice trial, your Halifax medical malpractice lawyer must prove to the court that the “defendant” (that is, your doctor or another medical professional, or a clinic or hospital) violated the legal and professional duty of care.
You and your lawyer will also have to prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the harm you suffered. If you signed a consent form, the court will determine if a reasonable person would have consented if that person had been fully informed of the risks.
What Else Should You Know?
Medical malpractice claims must be examined from both the legal and medical perspectives. If your lawyer can show that medical malpractice caused your injury or harm, you may recover compensation for your additional medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages and losses.
Nova Scotia’s deadline for filing medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of the alleged malpractice incident. Exceptions may be allowed in cases where the malpractice was hard to detect and wasn’t discovered immediately. The courts in Nova Scotia also have discretion to extend time limits in certain circumstances. So it’s important to get advice from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you think you may have been injured by medical malpractice.
You shouldn’t wait for two years to speak with a Nova Scotia medical malpractice lawyer. Evidence can deteriorate or disappear, and witnesses may become forgetful, move, retire or die. You should contact a lawyer immediately after a malpractice incident, but which lawyer should you choose?
Why Should You Choose McKiggan Hebert Lawyer?
How can you select a medical malpractice lawyer with the experience and skills to succeed on your behalf? For decades, McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has been fighting – and prevailing – for victims of medical malpractice in Halifax and across Canada. Reach out to McKiggan Hebert if:
- You are a victim of medical malpractice now or in the future.
- You’re not sure whether you are a medical malpractice victim.
- You were harmed or injured by a doctor, whether or not you signed a consent form.
If you bring a medical malpractice claim, you will pay McKiggan Hebert no lawyer’s fee until and unless one of our lawyers recovers your compensation. You can learn more – or start the legal process now – by calling our Halifax offices at 902-706-2298 and scheduling a free, no-obligation case review and evaluation.