Even relatively minor medical procedures can be dangerous to perform, as patients could suffer from unknown side effects or react negatively to anesthesia. Because there is always a risk of injury in these situations, hospitals require patients who are undergoing non-emergency surgery to sign a consent form, acknowledging the risks. However, because so much is at stake, medical professionals are also required to do more than just ask for a patient’s signature. Instead, they must fully inform the patient of the risks involved with the procedure. In Florida, when a doctor fails to adequately explain the risks of a surgery and the patient is later injured as a result, the doctor, or the hospital can be held liable for medical malpractice.
When a patient is injured during a surgical procedure, he or she must overcome a series of hurdles before liability can be established. For instance, even if a doctor did fail to obtain informed consent from a patient, he or she may escape liability if the medical procedure was one that a reasonable patient would have consented to undergo. In most cases, however, doctors will be held accountable if they do not obtain written informed consent or don’t provide patients with specific information, including:
- A general explanation of the procedure;
- Whether there are any medically acceptable alternative procedures or treatments; and
- Whether there are substantial risks and hazards inherent in the treatment or procedure.
A written consent containing this information that is signed by a patient will create a rebuttable presumption of a valid consent. However, this presumption can be overcome if an injured party can demonstrate that he or she merely signed the document, but never received an explanation of the procedure from a medical professional. The presumption could also be rebutted if the consent form was incomplete or contained false information. An injured party who was not physically or mentally competent at the time of the signing might also be able to demonstrate that consent was not valid.
Injured patients who are able to demonstrate that a physician failed to inform them of the risks of a procedure could collect damages to help cover the costs of their losses. This may include compensation for past and future medical expenses, such as additional surgeries, physical therapy, hospital stays, and prescription medications. Plaintiffs could also recover lost wages for the time that they were required to take off from work while they healed, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering they endured as a result of their injury. Collecting these damages can go a long way towards helping injured plaintiffs and their families begin the long road to recovery.
Contact a Member of our Legal Team Today
Having competent and compassionate legal counsel can make all the difference in whether an injured patient is able to hold a negligent doctor responsible for his or her actions. To speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer about your own injury, please contact Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919.