Medical Treatment Without Consent And What It Means For You

Patients who come into an emergency room already unconscious and in need of critical care can still sue you if they or their loved ones did not give consent. It is a narrow line to walk when no one is available for consent because you might accidentally treat someone who has religious or personal convictions against modern medical treatments. Medical malpractice lawyers can help you navigate these tricky situations by providing you with the following information prior to trial.

Implied Consent, Informed Consent, and No Consent

Obviously your unconscious patients who do not have any family consenting on their behalf are no consent patients. Legally, you cannot refuse to treat these patients, especially if they come into the emergency room riddled with bullet holes or stab wounds. Police on the scene of the stabbing or shooting try to locate next of kin as soon as possible in order to obtain consent, but in the meantime, you are legally responsible to treat patients in life and death situations. Implied consent takes over in these situations, with the assumption that a family member will be found and give post-treatment consent.

Implied consent means that any patient who comes to you and needs care should receive care, conscious or not. You help them based on the idea that if they were able to speak, they would request that you help them. It also covers conscious patients who schedule appointments with you or who come into the ER fully conscious for a physical complaint or injury.

Informed consent means that the patient has had a chance to review legal intake paperwork for a procedure and has agreed to the treatment. Surprisingly, this type of consent is the most gray area because patients can deny treatment by informed consent but not be denied treatment. If they are found mentally incompetent, they may be compelled by a court to receive treatment, which is why this is no easier than treating an unconscious emergency patient.

Legal Determination of Malpractice

Despite your best efforts to do what is right, you may still face a lawsuit under non-consenting patient issues. If you have done everything possible to save a person’s life without knowing his or her personal and spiritual convictions, and saved his or her life, then you have legally done right by him or her. In the eyes of the legal system, the judge will weigh what you did for the plaintiff against the plaintiff’s complaints and decide if a malpractice case even exists. Given a specific set of circumstances, you are usually innocent of any crime, and will not have to pay damages. If there is anything untoward about your case or how you handled the situation, then you might have to pay.

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