INDIANAPOLIS 317-566-9600
KOKOMO 765-865-9300
BLOOMINGTON 812-566-2600



INDIANAPOLIS 317-566-9600
KOKOMO 765-865-9300
BLOOMINGTON 812-566-2600





What is Informed Consent?

A female doctor explains the risks of a procedure to a female patient so she can make an informed decision.

One of your most important relationships should be between you and your physician. It is a unique relationship built on trust, accountability, empathy, collaboration, and communication. Physicians must be professional, maintain confidentiality, explain options for treatment, and obtain informed consent for any procedures.

What is Informed Consent?

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), informed consent is ethically and legally fundamental to medical treatment. Patients are entitled to health and treatment information so they can make the best decision about their care. 

Communication between doctor and patient is critical to understanding all the patient’s options when discussing treatment. The trust and support from the physician should be enough for the patient to authorize a specific medical procedure. Failing to obtain consent from the patient or their surrogate (family member) can have serious legal consequences in malpractice cases. 

Obtaining Informed Consent

Physicians have criteria to obtain informed consent from a patient, including:

  • Assessing patient’s comprehension of their condition and treatment options
  • Present accurate and relevant healthcare information, including:
    • Diagnosis,
    • Recommended options for treatment, 
    • Risks involved with the course of treatment, and
    • Document the conversation with the patient’s (or surrogate’s) decision in the medical record

In emergencies, physicians can begin treatment without informed consent when neither the patient nor the surrogate can make a decision. However, in those cases, the physician has a duty to inform the patient (or surrogate) at the earliest opportunity. During this conversation, the physician must obtain consent for ongoing treatment.

What Happens Without Informed Consent?

Surgery inherently involves risk and potential side effects. If a physician performs surgery without informed consent and harms the patient, there are serious legal implications. Sometimes, the physician performs surgery flawlessly. However, without informed consent, they are liable for medical malpractice.

A lack of informed consent could happen for many reasons, including:

  • Insufficient information: Healthcare providers fail to disclose necessary information about treatment or procedure. As a result, the patient isn’t able to completely understand the risks involved.
  • Coercion or pressure: Patients may feel pressured or coerced into consent without fully understanding the implications and risks. This may be due to the power structure of the doctor-patient relationship, time constraints, or inadequate communication from the physician. 
  • Language or cultural barriers: The AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics states the physician must provide information in a language or format the individual can understand. If not, it can impede the patient’s ability to provide informed consent.
  • Incapacity: The individual must have the cognitive capacity to understand the information and make decisions. When individuals lack decision-making capacity due to age, mental illness, or cognitive impairment, the physician must obtain consent from a surrogate or legally authorized representative.

When a physician does not follow the medical consent process and performs the treatment or procedure, they have violated the patient’s rights.

Understanding Informed Consent in Indiana

Under Indiana law, informed consent is a vital component of the patient-provider relationship. The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, outlined in Title 34, Article 18, Chapter 7 of the Indiana Code, sets the framework for informed consent requirements. Healthcare providers must disclose relevant information to patients, ensuring they understand the nature, purpose, risks, benefits, and alternatives of the proposed treatment or procedure.

Consult With a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Navigating the complexities of medical malpractice cases involving inadequate informed consent can be challenging. Patients often receive consent forms shortly before a procedure or operation, leaving little time for a thorough review. However, it is the patient’s responsibility to read the consent form prior to any procedure. If any questions or concerns arise regarding the risks, it is crucial for patients to request a discussion with a doctor.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a lack of proper informed consent, it is crucial to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. They can evaluate the specific circumstances of your case, guide you through the legal process, and help determine the appropriate legal recourse.

To be successful, your lack of informed consent attorney must prove that a reasonable person would not consent to treatment had they been aware of the risks or existence of alternative therapies not disclosed to them.

How We Can Help

Inadequate informed consent can have significant legal implications. Patients have the right to be fully informed about their medical treatments or procedures, and failure to obtain informed consent may lead to medical malpractice claims. 

If you feel you are a victim of a lack of informed consent, seek legal representation from a medical malpractice firm. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. In addition to seeking legal recourse, work with healthcare providers to ensure you receive the appropriate medical care and support. 

To schedule a free consultation, call us at 317-566-9600 (Indianapolis), 765-865-9300 (Kokomo), or 812-566-2600 (Bloomington), or complete our online inquiry form to schedule an appointment* with one of our health professional attorneys to review your case. We have offices in Indianapolis, Kokomo, and Bloomington to serve you.

*Free consultation; no retainer fee. You don’t pay a fee until we obtain a settlement for you. All attorney fees are based on the amount of your recovery.

*The amount of medical malpractice attorney fees are set by Indiana Law.