Informed consent is where a physician or medical provider has a duty to disclose what a reasonably prudent physician in the medical community would disclose to his or her patient concerning the risks which might be incurred from a proposed course of treatment. The purpose of doing so is to allow the patient to make an informed and intelligent decision after first balancing the risks and benefits of the proposed treatment. If a physician or medical provider has not obtained the patient’s informed consent and then performs an invasive procedure, even if the operation is successful, that person has a claim.
In a case being handled by Mr. Achrem, which will be tried in California in the near future, the patient was told she had lung cancer and that an operation had to be performed right away. Because the doctors did not give her any other options, such as watchful waiting and careful monitoring of the suspected cancerous tumor, her informed consent was never obtained. After the operation was performed and most of her lung removed, the doctors discovered that the patient never had cancer in the first place. She is now permanently scarred and disfigured, with most of her lung missing. Because there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in California, that will be all she can hope to recover for her injuries. Knowing this, the doctors’ insurance company has only been willing to offer a fraction of that amount to settle the case, since they have little to lose by taking the case to trial, because the damage award will be capped.
While tort reform is being pushed in Nevada, the only ones which will ultimately benefit by it will be the insurance companies who have increased the doctors’ premiums, in large part, to cover their recent losses in the stock market and their poor decisions in continuing to insure doctors who repeatedly commit medical malpractice. Ironically, doctors are now leaving California, where tort reform has been in place since 1975, because of ever-increasing malpractice premiums. It is our firm’s opinion that tort reform has nothing whatsoever to do with increases in the doctors’ premiums, and that the insurance carriers are increasing the doctors’ rates to increase their bottom line.
If you feel that a physician has failed to explain to you the benefits and risks involved in treatment, and you have been injured as a result of that failure, then you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights.