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Medical Expert Witness Explains What Lawyers Must Understand about Informed Consent

It is often necessary to hire an expert witness so that the judge or jury is able to understand certain aspects of a case or the evidence connected to it. However, some may become part of the proceedings so that certain persons are made aware of elements such as informed consent which requires more than simply obtaining permission for something specific.

Informed consent is more complicated than just obtaining the permission for an aspect of something particular. If the issue involves a medical procedure, the patient must do more than just give permission for treatment. Informed consent implies that the person has been educated about the matter to the point that he or she knows what it involves. This usually also means that the advantages and disadvantages have been detailed well enough that the individual is able to make an informed decision about moving forward. If informed consent is not acquired, there are many processes that may not be accomplished per the law and certain guidelines. There are restrictions on the conduct of those informing the person as well as what he or she must understand.

There are many problems that may lead to litigation due to possible medical malpractice that includes issues
with informed consent. This could mean that the patient simply signed a form and was not educated fully about a procedure. This method may have included scarring or potential infection. Without knowing this, the patient may injury himself or herself further afterwards. Additionally, some may have rejected the treatment with the knowledge. In other matters, an individual may need to consent to a contract or other document before he or she is deemed to have given informed consent. These events require details and the person must be aware of various aspects before signing away.

The Medical Expert’s Explanation

When a case involves informed consent, a medical expert may be needed so that a lawyer is able to comprehend why informed consent is so complicated. If the treatment led to difficulties and scarring or additional injuries were sustained due to the surgery or other procedure, the patient may attempt to sue the hospital or doctor. However, if he or she was fully aware of the possibility of what may occur, it could be reflected in the paperwork. The situation may have also called for witnesses that signed documentation showing that the patient provided informed consent and not just a signature on the file.

The expert needs to explain first what informed consent is to the lawyer. Once this has been established as the fully knowledge of what the medical procedure may require, injuries that may happen and what to expect, the case may move to the next factor. The documentation is often an issue in cases and claims. This means analyzing it fully and knowing what may be presented and what is inadmissible. Informed consent documentation usually contains everything necessary to show that the patient was fully aware of everything, and the witness may corroborate this. Then, a claim for malpractice or negligence could be dismissed.

Why Informed Consent is so Important

When a patient has not been fully explained what may occur with the surgery, treatment or procedure, he or she may have the right to litigate against the doctor or hospital if there are other foreseen complications that would have been detailed prior to the incident. This means that the facility and staff may be held liable for the damages. This then means that it is crucial that the patient has been made aware of even the most remote possibility of harm, injury or complication. If there is the possibility that scarring may be the end result of the procedure, this needs to be discussed. For the more major treatments, death may be explained with a certain percentage.

Informed consent is connected to the right for a patient to know and consent to what happens to his or her body. This means that he or she needs to make a decision based on facts and details. The individual is entitled to this data, and if not provided, he or she may not be able to determine if the treatment is worth the potential risk.

The Litigation Battle

If an instance arises where informed consent was not granted, or there are other issues, an expert witness should be hired to assist with the case. He or she may be utilized to explain how this concept works and why it is so important.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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