New York requires informed consent for medical treatment. You should receive all necessary information about your medical condition, treatment choices, risks and benefits of treatment, and prognosis. In order for a patient to give informed consent, a doctor should discuss:
- Your diagnosis
- The process and purpose of any proposed treatments and any possible alternative treatments
- The risks and benefits of treatment, and
- The risks and benefits of failure to obtain treatment.
The failure to provide information and obtain informed consent can result in medical malpractice, negligence, or battery claims for the doctor. A doctor can not decide for us what medical treatment we should receive. It is a patient’s own health and sometimes life that is at stake so important medical decisions must be made by the patient or in circumstances of incompetence by an appointed guardian. Even though the informed consent requirement exists, sometimes doctors fail to provide alternative treatment options or to thoroughly explain risks. This can result in uninformed decisions by patients sometimes resulting in personal injury.
However, there are certain situations where informed consent is not required. For example emergency or incompetency. When you are not physically or mentally able to consent but emergency medical action is necessary to save you, a doctor is not required to obtain informed consent. Also, some people may not be competent to give consent. While adults are generally presumed competent to give informed consent, children and mentally ill adults are often presumed incompetent. In these situations, a parent or court appointed guardian will be responsible for consenting on the patient’s behalf.
If a doctor has treated you without first obtaining your informed consent and you suffered injury as a result, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate whether you have a case.