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What does informed consent for health care mean?

Informed consent is a concept that anyone who seeks medical care should have at least a basic knowledge of. This concept is one that is the basis of a patient being able to make choices about the care they will receive. There are several points that you must know about if you are trying to understand informed consent.

What does informed consent mean?

Informed consent means that a medical care provider must explain the risks, benefits and alternatives to medical procedures, treatments, and surgeries that are being suggested in your care. In many cases, you will be asked to sign an informed consent document that states you understand those points about what you are being asked to do. You have the right to ask questions about any aspect of the information provided before you sign the informed consent acknowledgement.

Is informed consent always required?

Informed consent isn't always required. In situations like taking a patient's vital signs, no informed consent is required. Additionally, if the medical issue is considered an emergency and the treatment is life-saving, no informed consent is necessary.

Who should inform the patient?

Generally, the doctor should be the professional to speak to the patient. There are some instances in which other professionals, such as nurses, might provide the information. No matter who speaks about the matters at hand, it is critical that they ensure the patient actually understands what is being relayed.

If you didn't sign an informed consent acknowledgement and were harmed in a medical procedure or if you signed the form but didn't understand the facts, you might opt to seek compensation for the adverse effects that you suffered.

Source: FindLaw, "Understanding Informed Consent - A Primer," accessed Dec. 18, 2015

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