What Does Informed Consent Mean Under Florida Medical Malpractice Laws?
Getting informed consent is one of the most basic duties for a physician when providing medical care, and the requirements are spelled out in the Florida Medical Consent Law. In general, the statute protects health care providers from claims in which the patient gives informed consent to the treatment. Whenever you are planning an elective surgery, you will receive documentation that you are requested to sign for these purposes. However, informed consent can even apply in emergency situations and other urgent care settings.
Still, there is more to the concept than having you sign some paperwork, and Florida health care practitioners can be liable when they are negligent in getting informed consent. You should discuss concerns with a Tampa medical malpractice attorney, but a summary of the basic principles is useful.
Principles of Informed Consent
This concept is grounded in the notion that patients have the right to direct what happens to their body, so health care providers must obtain agreement before delivering treatment. However, their assent must be informed in the sense that the patient understands the medical care being provided. During consultation with the patient, a physician must disclose certain details for informed consent, including:
- The nature of the procedure, such as a basic walk-through of what the doctor will do;
- The risks and benefits associated with the procedure;
- Whether there are reasonable alternatives to the procedure;
- The risks and benefits of the alternative forms of care, compared to those present in the procedure being discussed; and,
- An assessment of the patient’s understanding of Factors #1 through #4.
Standards for Assessing Consent
Florida’s informed consent statute addresses situations where the patient signs a writing in advance, which is a typical step for an elective procedure. If the patient is mentally and physically competent to agree, their signature meets the requirements. When the patient is receiving emergency care or cannot provide informed consent for other reasons, there are other approaches to evaluating agreement to treatment:
- A subjective standard, i.e., what this patient would need to know to make a decision;
- A reasonable patient standard, which refers to what an average patient would need to understand to provide informed consent; and,
- The reasonable physician standard, focusing on what a reasonably prudent doctor would disclose about the procedure.
When evaluating both the principles of informed consent and standards for meeting the statutory requirements, you can see how these cases often heavily rely on input from medical experts. There can often be disputes related to the risks that the health care provider disclosed and whether any information was omitted.
Discuss Informed Consent with a Hillsborough County Med Mal Lawyer
Problems with informed consent may constitute medical malpractice when a Florida health care provider deviates from the medical standard of care in getting a patient’s agreement. If you have concerns about treatment you or a loved one received, please contact Greco & Wozniak P.A. to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with a member of our team. You can call 813.223.7849 or go online to reach our offices in Tampa, FL.