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Mistakes doctors make regarding informed consent

Doctors in Ohio and around the country are required to ensure that their patients understand the benefits, risks and alternatives to planned treatments prior to providing treatment as well as understand the consequences of not getting treatment. However, many medical malpractice lawsuits revolve around a failure to adequately do so.

One mistake is how doctors disclose the risks of treatment before getting their patients' signatures on a consent form. The discussion should include the potential risks and serious injuries that might occur, including brain damage, paralysis or death. Doctors should explain these risks rather than simply list them because the patients could assert that a serious talk never occurred or that they did not understand what was said.

Doctors often get a lot of small details wrong during the process and fail to have the discussion with a witness present or get a witness's signature to the form. The witness needs to be another health care professional rather than an aide or a receptionist. The patient's signature also needs to be legible.

In some cases, physicians ask sedated patients to sign the consent forms, leaving them open to a claim that the patient did not have the capacity to understand what was being signed. They might also fail to secure the consent to go ahead with a serious operation when their patients go in for a simple procedure. It is necessary for patients to be informed of the potential that a more serious procedure may be medically appropriate.

Another mistake is not informing patients of the risks of small inpatient procedures such as stitches, colonoscopies and mole removals. Additionally, many doctors do not document that their patients who refuse treatment are aware of the consequences of doing so. Patients who believe that they have been harmed because their physicians did not provide an adequate explanation the treatment that they underwent may wish to speak with a medical malpractice attorney in order to understand the options that are available for obtaining recourse.

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