Medical malpractice lawsuits are extremely complicated. Many factors go into whether or not a patient can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, including consent forms, negligence, type of procedure, and the steps that the entire medical team caring for you took.
Many clients dealing with medical malpractice cases wonder if signing a consent form means they cannot sue the doctor in case something goes wrong. However, the issue of medical liability and consent forms is quite complicated.
Implications of a Consent Form
Before receiving any form of medical care, most doctor’s offices or medical facilities require that patients sign a consent form. A consent form is a pre-drafted legal document often related specifically to the type of care or procedure you’re undergoing.
This sets forth your consent for the doctors and medical professionals to treat you according to what’s outlined in the consent form. By law, you must sign an informed consent form before undergoing surgery.
The document outlines the risks and possible complications you could experience from the procedure or medical care. Complications and risks listed on a form for a specific procedure often come from historical evidence. Doctors and the medical profession at large track outcomes from procedures and once a side effect or complication becomes statistically significant, it will be listed on these consent forms.
But what happens if you experience complications from a procedure or medical care that wasn’t listed on the consent form? There are some safe harbors for medical professionals for complications not listed on a consent form. These protections include extremely rare complications and side effects, such as those that occur in only 1 out of 10,000 procedures.
Some newer procedures though might still need to list these complications on consent forms if the medical industry is aware of such complications. Your medical malpractice attorney might prove in court that medical literature shows the medical industry was aware of such a complication, even though it was not listed on the consent form that you signed before receiving care.
Evaluating the Validity of a Consent Form in a Medical Malpractice Case
There are a few keys to determining whether a consent form will bar you from pursuing a med mal claim. Here’s a look at how this might apply to your case.
- Patients must freely and willingly sign the consent form without any coercion
- Patients must be of a sound mind when they sign the consent form
- All reasonably-known risks and complications must be listed on the consent form to provide the patient with informed consent before undergoing the procedure
- No medical negligence was present in your care or the procedure that you underwent
Should any of these elements not be present, you might have a medical malpractice case. However, the best way to know whether or not you have a med mal case is to discuss the matter with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney. The attorney will walk you through a series of questions to evaluate the circumstances surrounding your care and the consent form that you signed.
Steps to Take to Protect Your Right to Sue After Med Mal
Medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional fails to diagnose a condition or issue, provides the wrong diagnosis, fails to act in a manner that would be considered reasonable in the medical field, or is negligent in the care that they provide to a patient.
Victims of med mal can face serious challenges and health conditions following these actions on behalf of their medical provider. To protect your right to sue for medical malpractice, here are the steps you should take in Indiana.
- Consult an Indiana medical malpractice attorney. You need to discuss the matter with an attorney who practices in the state where you received medical care because each state has some nuances to how cases are handled and the legal proceedings. The attorney will assess your case and guide you in determining the best next steps.
- Request your medical records. Make a formal medical record request from the medical facility where you received treatment. Be sure that you collect these records from every treating doctor’s office or health care facility. Records might be spread among various offices, such as a primary care doctor, the hospital where you were treated, and the anesthesiologist’s office. You’ll want to be sure you collect all this information to provide to your attorney.
- See a trusted doctor to document your injuries and complications. You should not return to receive care from the doctor who you suspect of med mal. Instead, ask your attorney if they know of a trustworthy doctor in the field of care you need to assess your injuries and complications from the medical malpractice claim.
- In collaboration with your attorney, file a proposed complaint with the Indiana Insurance Department’s Medical Malpractice Division. This division will do some research into your claims and provide a copy to the health care professional.
- File your complaint with the Medical Review Panel. Before you can file a lawsuit, your claim must go through the Medical Review Panel, which consists of one lawyer and three health care professionals. Regardless of their findings, you can still file a lawsuit if your attorney believes there is validity to it.
Stewart & Stewart is a team of expert medical malpractice attorneys. We offer a free consultation to get to know you and your case. Schedule your consultation now to begin the process of filing a med mal claim.