Surgery Without Informed Consent in Virginia

If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact one of our experienced lawyers at (757) 244-7000 for legal advice and representation.

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Surgery without informed consent in Virginia is a form of medical malpractice. The longstanding principle of informed consent requires a doctor to provide information about the medical condition of a patient and the available medical care options before a procedure.

Informed consent is important because the patient must have all of the facts at his or her disposal before making a decision with potential long-term health implications. Informed consent forms the basis of mutual trust between a healthcare provider and a patient. If a doctor fails to adequately inform a patient about the possible implications of a medical procedure and he or she develops complications, the doctor can be sued.

If you were not informed about the possible consequences of a procedure, you may have grounds for a lawsuit for surgery without consent in Virginia. You should contact our medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible.

The Elements of Informed Consent

When a patient is considering a procedure, he or she must be informed of:

  • The diagnosis
  • The purpose and nature of the suggested treatment
  • The benefits of the procedure
  • The alternatives
  • The risks of the procedure and possible side-effects afterward

Under the principle of informed consent, the doctor or surgeon must not only secure the patient’s consent to treatment, but the treatment itself must be obtained from a fully informed patient.

When a patient consents to treatment, this may impose certain limits on his or her legal recourse. However, signing a statement assuming the risks inherent in a procedure does not mean that that the patient has no recourse to sue if a hospital or healthcare provider fails in a duty or is negligent.

Patients do not consent to unacceptable risks during surgery or another procedure under the doctrine of informed consent.

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The Reasons for the Doctrine of Informed Consent

Informed consent goes to the very heart of shared decision-making, states the American Medicine Association. Patients should actively participate with their doctors. Giving them adequate information ensures they can play a significant role in making decisions that reflect their own values, preferences and future health outcomes. Physicians play a key role as educators in this process.

Many patients know very little about medicine. It’s, therefore, difficult for a doctor to confirm that a patient has given adequately informed consent. It’s imperative that the doctor discloses enough about the dangers and benefits of proposed treatments that the patient becomes sufficiently informed to participate in the shared decision making process.

However, a doctor may find it challenging to strike a balance between providing too much and too little information.

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How To Give Informed Consent?

Informed consent in Virginia may be given orally or in writing. Typically, doctors give patients consent forms for them to sign. In some cases, informed consent is more difficult to obtain or more nuanced as in the case of a patient in a serious condition or an unconscious patient who is unable to give consent and there is no family member on hand to give it on the patient’s behalf.

When a patient is a child, the parent or guardian is required to consent to any treatment, unless emergency treatment is required when a parent or guardian is unavailable to give consent. There are some exceptions to this rule if the minor seeks treatment for a  sexually transmitted disease, or for drug and alcohol treatment when he or she does not want a parent to be aware of the nature of the treatment.

Recovering Damages for Surgery Without Informed Consent in Virginia

The damages a patient may recover in an informed consent case are different from the damages related to a typical medical malpractice negligence action. Because the liability relates to the lack of consent to a particular procedure, a patient may recover damages even when a medical procedure was successful. In a negligence case, a patient is required to show he or she was injured.

Often informed consent cases involve patients developing a complication from an operation or another procedure that their doctor failed to warn them about. Patients who develop a condition that a doctor failed to warn them about, have grounds to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Injury Lawyer in an Informed Consent Case

At the Smith Law Center, our attorneys have considerable experience in representing people hurt in hospitals across the country. Our past results include an award of $2.2 million for a child who suffered a brain injury due to the negligence of surgeons at a hospital in Louisiana. Call us for a free consultation if you have been a victim of hospital negligence at (757) 695-9425.


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