When doctors in Delaware and elsewhere suggest specific treatments, tests or surgical procedures, they must provide the patients with all the necessary information. Patients can then decide to go ahead with the proposed treatment or not. This process, which involves the complete understanding of the benefits and the risks patients may face, is called informed consent.
Patients are entitled to decide on matters involving their medical conditions and health. However, doctors assume implied consent in interactions such as physical exams. Exceptions exist when it comes to the need for emergency treatment to prevent severe or irreversible harm.
For informed consent to be valid, the following four principles must be met.
Decision making capacity
The patient must understand all the information provided by the doctor and grant consent voluntarily. There can’t be any duress or coercion.
The patient must be competent and able to understand the various options and their respective consequences. The patient must also be able to explain why one option is chosen and not another one.
The doctor must disclose enough information to enable the patient to make intelligent decisions. It should include each option’s risks and benefits and the probability of each risk and benefit happening. Furthermore, the doctor must provide answers to any questions in a manner that the patient will understand.
Consent must be documented and signed by both the doctor and the patient or a parent on behalf of a child. The written consent must explain the condition necessitating the procedure, treatment or test. Similarly, it must demonstrate the purpose and any possible adverse events of complications. A description of alternative options and their risks and benefits, and details of potential consequences of a choice against the procedure, treatment or tests must form part of the document.
People in Delaware who are dealing with the consequences of medical treatment, procedures or tests done without informed consent might have grounds to pursue financial relief. In appropriate circumstances, they may have grounds to file medical malpractice lawsuits in civil court.