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Informed consent guide

Kentucky residents may not be aware of what defines informed consent. Informed consent means that a patient is made aware of the consequences and possible complications that may result from medical care they are given. What legally qualifies as informed consent differs from state to state. However, there are some commonalities. The American Medical Association has summarized some of the basic information that a doctor should communicate to a patient. This information includes the diagnosis, if it is known; the recommended treatment and its risks and benefits; alternative treatments, if available, along with their risks and benefits; and the risks and benefits of receiving no treatment.

An informed consent form, according to federal regulations, must be in a patients chart before that patient undergoes surgery. This chart must contain at minimum the signature of the patient, the name of the hospital and the names of the doctors performing the procedure, the name of the procedure and the risks and benefits associated with it, alternative procedures if available, a statement that the procedure was explained to the patient, a signature of a person that witnessed consent being given and the signature of the person who explained the procedure. Which procedures require informed consent also differs from state to state and can vary between institutions as well.

Informed consent gets more complicated when the amount of information that must be given to a patient about a procedure or treatment is taken into consideration. It's not possible to explain every conceivable risk that may be involved with a treatment, especially since risks can differ based upon the patients specific condition. Nor is it always possible to explain to the patient every alternative treatment available. Furthermore, the patient may not even be able to comprehend such thorough explanations.

It is possible that a negative outcome that a patient was not made fully aware of results from a medical treatment. In such a situation, the patient may be eligible for compensation. Contacting an attorney who could inform them of their legal options might be beneficial.

Source: TempleHealth.org, "A Practical Guide to Informed Consent", October 24, 2014

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