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Experimental Treatments Require Informed Consent

The communication between a doctor and patient is critical when it comes to making a plan for treatment. The doctor needs to obtain consent from a patient before proceeding with any treatment measures, and consent cannot be given if the patient is misinformed or deprived of vital information regarding the safety, risks, alternatives and potential benefits involved. Experimental treatments demonstrate one situation in which a fully-informed patient would need to exercise the right to give or withhold consent to the healthcare provider before treatment began.

The Doctor's Role

When prescribing a treatment to a patient, the doctor is generally designated to obtain the informed consent first. This plays an instrumental part in ensuring that the patient has a full understanding of what the doctor is suggesting and why. The patient will need this information in order to make a reasonable decision about pursuing the treatment.

The Patient's Role

The patient has an obligation to voice concerns or the need for further clarification when being educated on a potential treatment, surgery or procedure. If the doctor used excessive medical terminology, for example, the patient should not agree to the procedure until all questions have been answered to the best ability of the doctor. If the patient has questions regarding the FDA-approval status of a treatment or suspects that the status has been withheld, then it is critical to take a proactive approach and address the suspicions.

Informed Consent And Experimental Treatments

The only time a physician may be able to administer a treatment considered experimental to a patient without informed consent is in some emergency situations. Even then, however, certain factors must be present, such as community awareness of the experimental treatment and an official plan regarding reporting and documentation. Otherwise, the doctor is expected to comply with the legal obligation to inform a patient of a treatment's experimental status. The failure to do so denies the patient the right to make an informed decision regarding the risks and benefits associated with a specific treatment, particularly if considered experimental. If a doctor treats a patient with an experimental drug or technique without obtaining informed consent first, the patient could have grounds for a medical negligence claim, and the doctor could be liable for any resulting damages.

Contact us today if you have any questions regarding your legal rights at 918-779-3658.

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