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Seattle Failure to Warn Attorneys

Failure to Warn a Patient

When we have to visit the doctor, we trust that they’ll provide us the best possible care and give us all the information we need to make an informed decision. Patients always have the right to refuse treatment as long as they are a competent adult over the age of 18, even if it’s against the best advice of their doctor. In addition to that, healthcare professionals across the country are required to fully inform their patients of all the risks involved in any treatment, test, or procedure. Informed consent once again needs to be given, and when it’s not, the healthcare professionals may be guilty of failure to warn, which is medical malpractice.

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The Sharing of Information

There are few medical tests, treatments, and procedures that don’t come with some kind of risk, even if it’s only minor. Because of this, doctors and all other healthcare professionals need to inform the patient of everything related to the treatment in question so that the patient can make an informed decision. Healthcare professionals need to tell patients:

  • Their diagnosis, if known
  • The nature and purpose of any proposed test, treatment, or procedure, including the risks and benefits
  • Any alternatives for those tests, treatments, or procedures, regardless of how much they cost or what the insurance coverage is
  • Risks and benefits of any alternatives
  • The risks and benefits of refusing any treatment, test, or procedure

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Consent forms are common among doctors’ offices and other healthcare clinics, and they’re important. Consent forms state that a patient is agreeing to - or giving their consent - for a test, treatment, or procedure outlined, and that they have been fully informed of all risks, benefits, and alternatives. Written documentation is more common when the treatment includes larger procedures, and typically verbal consent is all that’s needed for minor procedures, such as having blood tests taken.

Typically, competent adults can make their own decision about their healthcare and give consent, although there may be times when their consent isn’t necessary. This could happen if an adult was unconscious in an emergency room, and in danger of serious consequences if not given prompt medical attention. Also, if one condition was found while another condition was being treated, and the doctor fixed the new condition while treating the second, there would be no case of failure to warn, as consent doesn’t need to be given in that case.

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Determining How "Informed" a Patient Is

So a patient is saying that they weren’t informed about a procedure that ultimately harmed them, while the doctor is saying that they were given all the information. Who decides how informed a patient is?

There are actually two considerations given to how informed a patient is: 1) whether a reasonable patient would have considered the same amount of information sufficient enough to make an informed decision, and, 2) whether or not another doctor or healthcare provider would have given the same amount of information to the patient.

A patient has a right to be informed of a material fact or facts relating to treatment. A healthcare provider must be reasonably prudent and maintain practice within the standard of care when providing information about the material facts of the health care. Whether reasonable and prudent actions were taken when answering questions, providing material facts, and ultimately obtaining a patient’s informed consent requires expert testimony. Consulting with an experienced medical negligence attorney is the first step.

If you or a loved one has gone to a hospital or healthcare facility for a test, procedure, or treatment, and you believe you were hurt as a result of a doctor failing to warn you about possible complications and risks, contact us at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. We are experienced Seattle medical malpractice lawyers, and we know the law when it comes to failure to warn and medical malpractice. Don’t try and fight big hospital boards and teams of defense lawyers on your own. Call us toll-free today at (888) 228-3860 so we can get started reviewing your case.

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