As this blog has discussed previously, patients both in Georgia and across the country have the right to expect that their doctors will diagnose them correctly and promptly and will administer all surgeries and other treatments correctly. If a doctor fails in this obligation and injures a patient as a result, then the doctor can be held financially accountable via a medical malpractice case.
However, doctors also have what some might rightly describe as a duty to communicate with their patients adequately when it comes to having a patient choose what course of medical treatment to pursue.
The reason for this is two-fold. For one, it respects the patient’s dignity by allowing him or her to make personal choices about his or her own body. Moreover, it also acknowledges that all medical procedures have some element of risk to them, even when they are administered entirely correctly. It is up to the patient whether and to what extent he or she wants to take on those risks.
Under the legal doctrine of informed consent, a doctor has an obligation, prior to doing any significant medical treatment, to go over exactly what he or she plans to do and why he or she is planning to do it. The possible benefits and risks or drawbacks have to be discussed with the patient, as do all viable alternatives, including the option of doing nothing at all.
Even if a doctor otherwise does their job flawlessly, if they do not get informed consent from their patient, and a patient later gets injured by the treatment, the patient may in the right circumstances be able to sue for medical malpractice. This is true even if the patient suffered from ailment that was a known risk or side effect to the treatment.