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What if improper consent before a procedure leads to death?

Doctors in Cook County and across the state of Illinois are required to inform patients of what procedures are to be done during surgery and to receive consent. This is known as informed consent. While it might seem obvious that doctors receive permission from patients to perform surgery, this is a frequent issue if a patient is injured or dies and a surgeon did something other than what was supposed to be done. When a suspected wrongful death incident has occurred during surgery, it is imperative to understand exactly what happened to determine if a fatal surgical error was made.

Patients should speak to the surgeon before the procedure and try to gather facts about why the surgery will be done, if there are alternatives, the result of not having the procedure, how the procedure is organized, the dangers, what the improvement to the patient's circumstances will be with the surgery, how long the procedure takes, what the recovery time is and if there are aftereffects. Any question should be answered and concerns should be assuaged before the surgery. A good surgeon should be expected to provide this information without the patient or the patient's family having to ask. That, however, does not always happen.

Unless there is an emergency while the surgery is in the process of being completed, the doctor cannot simply choose to do other procedures without receiving the approval of the patient. While in many instances it might not do any lasting damage or any damage at all, there are cases in which a patient will be severely injured or there will be a fatality either due to a failure to complete the surgery as planned or a doctor doing more than what the doctor was approved to do. This might even have occurred because of a doctor confusing one patient for another.

If a family has suffered the loss of a loved one because of improper consent before a procedure, it is critical to understand what to do to investigate the cause and seek compensation. Part of that is having a full investigation into the case.

Source:, "Informed Consent," accessed on Sept. 14, 2015

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