Signing a Medical Release or Consent Form
Posted By Tara Worthley
Are You Waiving Your Patient Rights?
You or your loved one is preparing to have a medical procedure and, in the process, you’ve been handed some paperwork that includes a “medical release” or “consent form.” You’re dealing with enough anxiety already, and you surely don’t want to delay the procedure that is so important to you. But, you’re also not a lawyer. So, you can’t help but wonder, “What exactly am I signing here?” …Well, one thing is certain.
You’re Not Giving Consent to Receive Negligent Care
When you sign a consent form, you are generally agreeing that your doctor has explained important facts about your treatment, such as the procedure he is about to perform, other available treatment options for your condition, and the potential risks or complications associated with your procedure. Sometimes these forms do not identify specific risks and just make a general reference that these items have been explained to you. If there has not been an explanation of important facts about your surgery, you can ask for that conversation to occur before agreeing to undergo any type of operation.
That said, sometimes people who are victims of medical malpractice are worried that by signing a “consent form,” they consented to medical negligence. In Indiana, while a consent form may say the healthcare providers do not guarantee a specific outcome, your healthcare providers cannot have you sign a form where you agree that the doctor can negligently perform a procedure. By signing a consent form, you are not agreeing to waive your rights if your doctor was negligent. If your healthcare provider tries to have you sign a provision that waives your rights, even if a procedure was negligently performed or recommended, you may want to question why the healthcare provider has included that language. Undergoing surgery carries with it certain risks that should be discussed between you and your doctor. However, if you suffer an injury because of negligence, that does not mean you “accepted” the risk of an injury just because you signed a consent form.
Feel free to contact our offices at Langer & Langer if you have further questions. At the end of the day, the more you know and understand about the full scope of your healthcare, the better.