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.