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It isn’t an uncommon question: do legal forms (such as an informed consent form) that you’ve signed at a hospital or for a doctor protect them from claims of medical malpractice? We’ll explain in detail why in most cases, informed consent forms do not protect doctors or hospitals from claims of medical malpractice and why, in some cases, they do.

What Is An Informed Consent Form?

An informed consent form is a pre-printed legal form specific to a medical procedure you are undergoing. The purpose of the form is simply to ensure you are giving consent to have said medical procedure performed on you. It’s very straight forward and by law, you must sign in order to undergo the surgery, particularly given the risks of complications that may arise from the procedure. If a complication occurs often enough with a specific procedure (is considered statistically significant), it should be listed on the informed consent form.

What If My Medical Complication Was Not Listed?

There are instances when it is not required that a health complication arising from a certain surgery be listed on a consent form. If the complication has, for instance, only happened in .0002% of the times the surgery has been performed (2 out of 10,000 times), there may be no need to list the complication. However, if the complication is rare but has been discussed as a known complication of the surgery throughout the medical industry or in medical literature, it should be listed as a risk of the surgery.

If the medical complication is not listed as a risk of your medical procedure, you may have a claim for medical malpractice.

When An Informed Consent Form May Bar A Medical Malpractice Claim

If an informed consent form is properly executed, this generally bars a patient from bringing a medical malpractice claim against their doctor for complications that have risen due to their procedure. So long as the patient is not pressured to sign the form in any way, is of sound and mentally competent mind to sign the form, and the form itself has all reasonably-known risks listed with adequacy, an informed consent form may bar a patient from placing a medical malpractice claim.

Informed Consent Forms Do Not Excuse Negligence

If your doctor or hospital was negligent in their care for you (ie., if your doctor did not exercise his duties as a reasonably prudent doctor in his situation would), and this negligence led to your complication, an informed consent form means nothing. In this scenario, even if your complication was listed correctly on your informed consent form, you are still able to bring a medical malpractice claim against your doctor or hospital.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.