As a medical provider, acting ethically during each and every interaction with a patient is an essential part of your job. One situation where ethics are especially important is when obtaining informed consent for treatment. While informed consent often happens in the blink of an eye with a quick signature, taking the process seriously is crucial.
If you fail to properly gain a patient’s informed consent, the Medical Board of California may want to bring disciplinary action against you and it could put your medical license in jeopardy. Here’s how to make sure you get informed consent from your patient so you can avoid putting your license at risk.
Communication is Everything
When it comes to informed consent, how you communicate with the patient is just as important as what you communicate. While it can be difficult to hold back when you know a particular treatment is important to a patient’s well-being, you always want to avoid pressuring a patient into consenting to any treatment. This includes making any guarantees that a treatment will work, as this can not only be misleading, but it can cause parents to subject themselves to risks they would not have otherwise taken.
When you talk to the patient, don’t be demanding: remind them that making the best decision for treatment involves teamwork between you and them. Also, don’t rush: talk to them about their concerns and make sure to take what they’re saying seriously, even if it takes more of your own time than you would prefer.
Provide Complete Information
Another key part of informed consent is you must give the patient all of the information you can about a treatment they are considering. If a patient is not presented with a complete picture of the treatment process, they cannot make a truly informed decision.
This means that rather than simply telling them about the benefits of treatment, you should always include any potential dangers of the treatment, as well as information on alternative treatments. Even if they do not ask about these, it is your ethical duty to mention them.
Depending on the patient, there may also be factors that make them more or less ideal for a specific treatment, so be upfront with them about their unique situation as it relates to any procedure.
Understanding Revoked Consent
When a patient revokes consent for a treatment you know is in the patient’s best interest, it can be incredibly difficult. But this is your patient’s right, and they can exercise this right at any point, including after they have signed an informed consent form.
Even if a patient is hesitant about a specific treatment, it is your ethical duty to ask whether they would like to discontinue treatment. Again, always communicate clearly and honestly with your patient without pressuring them.
Informed Consent and Your Medical License
When a medical professional improperly handles informed consent, they can be faced with serious challenges to their license. If a patient complains to the medical licensing board that the consent process was forced or rushed, or they did not receive sufficient information, this could lead to scrutiny and disciplinary action from the licensing board.
If you have received a patient complaint or received word of a complaint from the Medical Board of California, it is in your best interest to work with a licensing attorney. Always hire a medical board license defense attorney before responding to any notices from the board on your own.
Scott J Harris has years of experience helping licensed professionals keep or regain their licenses when ethical issues such as informed consent come into play. During a free consultation, he will determine the specifics of your case and tell you how best to move forward. Contact SJ Harris today to discuss your case.
This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.