filling out hospital paperwork

Hospital Consent Forms: Do you Sign Away Your Rights to Sue?

When you go to the hospital to give birth, have surgery, or for any other reason, it usually requires a lot of paperwork. Reading, filling out forms, and signing a lot of documents can be mentally exhausting and sometimes confusing. This is especially true if you are not familiar with the specialized language or medical terms used within them.

During the “paperwork panic,” many patients breeze through paperwork without reviewing much at all. Oftentimes, a patient is consumed with worry about his or her illness, injury or disease and cannot focus on the importance of paperwork. Sometimes, the patient has already received medication that impacts a patient’s comprehension when he or she is asked to complete or sign a consent form. In most cases, patients never have to think about these consent forms again. However, some patients become victims of medical negligence and then end up worrying about how their paperwork may impact their right to file a medical malpractice claim.

Consent Forms and Informed Consent

The purpose of a hospital consent form is to ensure that a patient undergoing a medical procedure understands how the procedure is to be performed before being treated. The treating doctor should explain the procedure and explain the associated risks to the procedure. The treating physician should also discuss with the patient alternatives to the planned treatment and ask the patient if they would like a more detailed explanation.

Problems can arise, however, because most patients lack medical training and sometimes don’t understand many aspects of the medical procedure as it’s explained, or the associated risks. Nevertheless, Oregon law requires doctors to obtain informed consent from patients prior to medical treatment.

Obtaining informed consent in Oregon means that the procedure was explained, risks and alternatives to the procedure were also explained, and the patient was given an opportunity to ask questions, or get a more detailed explanation if desired. ORS 677.097.

The Impact of Consent on Lawsuits

The most important thing to remember is that when a patient consents to a medical procedure, the patient is NOT consenting to medical negligence. Just because a patient understands there is a risk of complication does not shield a doctor from making a careless mistake.

For example, even though an infection is virtually always a risk of surgery, a patient who contracts a serious infection after surgery may still succeed in a medical malpractice lawsuit, even if they signed a form indicating they understood there is a risk of infection. This could happen if a doctor failed to administer a required necessary antibiotic.

No consent form can prevent a patient from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit if it is proven that the physician acted negligently or wrongfully.

Contact Angel Law

In short, just because you sign a hospital consent form does not mean your rights to sue go out the window. If you sustained injuries or other damages because of a doctor or medical provider’s negligence, our firm is here to look at the details of your case. We can determine your best options for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit and pursue compensation for your physical and emotional injuries.

Contact Angel Law at (503) 862-8666 to get started with a free consultation.

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