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Is informed consent required before cancer treatment?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Doctor Errors |

Oregon physicians must get informed consent from their patients before performing most medical treatments and procedures. Failure to acquire informed consent may be considered a doctor error or a form of medical malpractice if the patient suffers harm as a result of this failure.

What is informed consent?

The informed consent process is more than simply asking a patient if they agree to treatment, and proceeding with treatment if the patient says, ‘yes.’ Medical professionals have a duty to inform the patient of various material aspects of the procedure, in a way the patient can understand. Generally, the medical provider must disclose:

  • The nature of the treatment
  • Alternative treatments recognized by the medical community
  • Risks and potential consequences of agreeing to the treatment
  • Risks and potential consequences of refusing treatment

When should a doctor seek consent from a cancer patient?

Most surgeries and treatments for cancers require informed consent from the patient. Generally, doctors will seek informed consent before:

  • Radiation and chemotherapy
  • Surgery (e.g. curative surgery, debulking surgery)
  • Complex medical tests (e.g. biopsies, some blood tests)
  • Certain vaccines

When is informed consent unnecessary?

There are some exceptions to the rule of informed consent rule. Some of these exceptions include:

  • Emergency situations, when the patient requires immediate treatment and is unconscious or otherwise unable to provide informed consent.
  • Patient has a condition that poses a threat to public health.
  • Patient has an advance directive refusing treatment.
  • Minors and incompetent adults (parents or guardians must provide consent on their behalves)

If your doctor treated you without getting your informed consent, you may have a valid claim against the doctor, as well as the hospital. A medical malpractice attorney can help establish the harm you suffered as a result of the procedure and that you would not have consented to the procedure if you had been given certain material information relating to the procedure.


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