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Informed Medical Consent
Many of our patients at Novus Medical Detox Center remark to us how they believe that their doctors that prescribed them medication on which they became dependent and/or addicted did not adequately warn them about the possible dire side effects. They ask why they were just given these horrible pills and no one explained that there were alternatives.
Choose A Doctor Like You Would Purchase A Car
Because our patients are intelligent, if they had been given sufficient data about the possible consequences of taking the drugs and the availability of alternative treatments, our patients would likely not have become hooked on the drugs.
I ask them how they purchase a car. They explain how they research the types of cars and speak with people who own them. They find out about the costs of maintenance, the gas mileage and the resale value. When they get to the car lot, they don’t just accept what the salesperson says but instead challenge the salesperson to show evidence of why a car is actually better than the competition.
The next step is to ask them why they would treat their health with less regard than purchasing a car. Why not do the same type of research about doctors and treatments to determine what is best for them? They don’t rely on the car salesperson so why blindly accept the word of a medical practitioner?
In addition, unlike the car salesperson, the medical practitioner has a legal responsibility in all 50 states to provide the patient enough information to enable the patient to make the right choice. This is called informed medical consent.
Definition of Informed Medical Consent
The Florida Medical Consent Law is set forth in Statute 766.103 and is similar to the laws in the other 49 states. The laws are based on the concept that individuals making decisions about medical care should consider the risks and potential benefits resulting from their decisions. To do so, individuals must have knowledge of those risks and potential benefits. These laws require the medical practitioner to provide enough data that the patient can make an informed medical decision. Here are some of Florida’s requirements:
- The method used by the medical practitioner for obtaining the consent of the patient must be in accordance with the accepted standard of medical practice among members of the medical profession with similar training and experience in the same or similar medical community.
- The information provided the patient should allow a reasonable individual to have a general understanding of the following things which are recognized among other medical professionals in the same or similar community who perform similar treatments or procedures:
- The diagnosis of the patient;
- The proposed procedure or treatment;
- The risks of not doing the proposed procedure or treatment;
- The medically acceptable alternative procedures or treatments (regardless of their cost or the extent to which the treatment options are covered by health insurance);
- The substantial risks and hazards inherent in the proposed treatment or procedures.
- A written consent must be obtained from a person who, under all the surrounding circumstances, is mentally and physically competent to give consent.
- There is a reasonable standard because the medical practitioner is not required to give every possible alternative or risk factor but just the ones that are recognized by other medical professionals.
What Are The Consequences Of The Failure To Obtain Informed Medical Consent?
Failure of the medical practitioner to obtain informed medical consent from a patient is considered negligence. Negligence, as it applies here, is when a patient has an injury or harm because of actions taken or not taken by the medical practitioner.
A patient who was not given informed medical consent can only obtain money damages from the medical practitioner if a jury or judge decides that the failure to provide informed medical consent was negligence. An example would be the patient being advised to have surgery but not being informed that there was a less drastic and less risky alternative. If the patient suffered harm from the surgery, then even though there may have been no negligence in the performance of the surgery, the fact that the patient did not receive informed medical consent would make the medical practitioner liable for the harm. Depending on the amount of harm caused to the patient, a patient can recover money from the medical practitioner.
How Does Informed Medical Consent Apply To You?
When you seek medical treatment or a medical procedure you should:
Research the medical practitioner and determine if there are any complaints filed against the practitioner by going to the state website of the licensing body;
Research on the internet the medical treatment options;
Based on your research, ask the medical practitioner questions about their proposed treatment and its possible side effects and the other alternatives you found and their possible side effects;
Ask your medical practitioner to explain the possible serious side effects of the drugs being prescribed;
Ask your medical practitioner if the prescribed drugs create any risk of an adverse drug interaction with any drugs you are taking (This is why it is a good idea to understand the basics of DNA and Metabolism which have been written about earlier so you will understand for yourself if the drugs you are taking are metabolized by the same enzyme.);
Ask for a written informed medical consent.
If you are not comfortable with the answers given by the medical practitioner then seek someone else.
If many of our patients had taken more responsibility for their medical treatment, they might have chosen alternative treatments or procedures and might not have had to come to Novus for medical detox. Please pay as much attention to any drugs or treatment you consider as you would pay to purchasing a car. It is vitally important to your health and your future.
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