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Attorneys Specialising in Medical Law

When Lack of Informed Consent to Medical Treatment Becomes an Issue

Medical practitioners certainly don’t wilfully make mistakes to cause serious bodily injury or harm to their patients. Though there may be isolated occurrences of such, in most instances, medical professionals take care to ensure a reasonable standard of care. Part of this process entails informing the patient of the nature of the medical procedure, why it is needed, and what risks are involved.

The medical professional also informs the patient of consequences of the particular course of treatment, and the likelihood that the treatment will bring about the desired outcome.

Informed consent also means that the medical professional must inform the patient of possible alternatives to the recommended course of treatment. If the practitioner does not give treatment for the condition for which the patient has visited the professional, the practitioner must give a prognosis.

The aim of informed consent is to ensure that the patient fully understands the treatment, the diagnosis, and options available. However, where the medical practitioner fails to do so and the patient suffers serious injury as the result of the treatment, the patient then has the right to take legal action against the practitioner for medical negligence. In this instance, the patient will want to get legal guidance and assistance from attorneys specialising medical law.

It should be noted that there are times when the medical practitioner does not have to get informed consent from the patient. One such an instance is when the patient undergoes emergency medical care and is unconscious. The patient is thus not able to provide informed consent regarding the intended course of treatment. If a guardian or close relative is not available to provide the consent and the medical practitioner must act within a limited timeframe to prevent permanent injury or death to the patient, the practitioner may then go ahead with treatment.

Once able, the practitioner should obtain the informed consent about the treatment followed as soon as the patient is able to provide such. Should it happen that the course of treatment for which the patient has given informed consent did not deliver the desired results, the healthcare professional should again inform the patient of alternative treatment options.

If the practitioner simply follows another course of treatment without taking the necessary steps to ensure informed consent and the patient suffers injury as a result thereof, the patient has the right to take legal steps with the help of attorneys specialising in medical law to seek recourse.

The doctor should in the case where the recommended and followed treatment did not bring about the desired results, inform the patient of the alternatives, show care and seek assistance from a colleague, and manage the impact of the failed treatment to minimise the negative effect on the patient.

Lack of informed consent is not necessary medical negligence. It is imperative to assess the entire procedure followed and the circumstances surrounding such. Also keep in mind that only if injury has been suffered and the incorrect procedure has been followed can it be seen as negligence. In any such instances, it is recommended to seek legal guidance from attorneys specialising in medical law as medical malpractice claims or lawsuits are complicated and many factors have to be taken into consideration.

If you suspect that your medical practitioner did not follow correct procedure to seek informed consent and you have suffered injury as the result of the treatment received, seek immediate guidance from attorneys specialising in medical law.


Information in this article is not intended as legal advice and is only for informational purposes. Please seek legal guidance from Adele van der Walt before relying on this information to make any legal decisions.

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