What Is Informed Consent?

Posted on: 16 December 2014

Informed consent is a major component of medical malpractice. If your doctor failed to follow the process to obtain informed consent, you could potentially have a medical malpractice claim. Here is what you need to know about informed consent if you planning to file a claim.

Informed Consent

When your doctor is preparing to perform a medical procedure or treatment on you, it is his or her responsibility to provide you with all of the risks that are associated with it. For instance, if the doctor is performing eye surgery, it is his or her responsibility to inform you that infection is a possible complication. 

After the doctor has informed you of the risks associated with the procedure or treatment, you can then decide whether or not you want to go through with the recommended course of action. This is considered informed consent because you are fully aware of the complications and are able to factor it into your decision of whether or not to have the procedure or treatment. 

If you are injured during the procedure or treatment and you were not properly informed of the risks by your doctor, you possibly have a claim.


Depending on your state, exactly how thorough your doctor has to be when disclosing the risks relies on what other doctors would do. A judge will look at whether or not other doctors would have normally disclosed a particular risk. For instance, the judge will consider whether or not other doctors would have informed the patient that infection was possible during eye surgery.

Another influence on informed consent disclosures is how you would have viewed the risk. If the doctor had informed you that infection was possible from surgery, would you have gone through with it? Your attorney could present a medical expert who could testify that it is more likely you would have looked for alternative treatments.


There are some instances in which informed consent is not necessary. Emergency situations, such as surgery to save your life following a car accident, do not require informed consent. Even if you would have normally chosen not to have the procedure, it has no bearing on your situation.

If you were deemed emotionally fragile at the time the procedure was performed, informed consent is not necessary. The doctor can make a judgment call as to whether or not informing you of all the risks would lead to anxiety that would hinder your ability to make a sound decision that could help you recover.

If you feel that your doctor did not fully disclose all of the risks of a procedure to you before doing it, talk to your attorney. He or she can help you decide whether or not you had a chance to give informed consent. Talk to your lawyer, such as Bennett & Zydron PC, for more information.