By law, this process is called ‘obtaining informed consent’. A patient’s consent to health treatment can only be considered informed if he/she has been properly advised about the procedure and its inherent risks in advance. A proper explanation of the treatment and the risks associated with it, the risks of not accepting treatment, and information about alternative treatments forms part of informed consent.
In Canada, informed consent is more than just getting a signature on a piece of paper.
Legally, adult patients are able to exercise autonomy by making medical decisions regarding their treatment on their own. When they are not capable to do so, a properly appointed substitute decision-maker can give or withhold consent on behalf of the patient. Remember, the consent is considered valid only if it is given when the patient is competent and of clear mind, is informed and is voluntary.
A patient has every right to ask as many questions as they would like in order to fully understand their options, choices and the risks involved in a medical procedure. If a medical practitioner asks a patient to sign a form acknowledging their consent to treatment, the patient should read it carefully so as to make an informed decision. In serious cases, if a patient is unsure about consenting or thinks they are being asked to waive any rights, they may want to consult another health care provider.
If a health care professional provides treatment to you without proper consent, you can register a complaint by contacting the appropriate governing body such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for a physician or the Ontario College of Nurses for nurses. If a patient is considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, the best place to start the process is by contacting a law firm that has the appropriate experience and expertise.
So the next time you or your loved one go in for a medical treatment, make sure your doctor or healthcare professional in Ontario abides by these basic rules:
- Respects your choice to set clearly defined health-care goals, and understand that you’re ultimately the one making treatment decisions.
- Acts in your best interests.
- Demonstrates professional competence and meets appropriate health-care standards.
- Communicates effectively, obtains your informed consent and collaborates effectively with you.
If you believe that your health has been compromised by sub-standard medical care, contact Hamilton’s top medical malpractice team at Mackesy Smye Law Firm.
Our lawyers understand complex medical malpractice cases, as well as the litigation process and are committed to exercise all possible legal options to protect your rights and ensure fair compensation.