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What is 'informed consent' in medical procedures?

Part of receiving medical care is the dialog between doctor and patient. In some cases, other health care professionals, like nurses or similar staff, may step in to answer questions and make recommendations. When a person is ill or has an injury, there is often a few options in terms or care, or there may only be one option. Before a person goes through with their treatment decision, the appropriate healthcare provider must notify the patient of the potential benefits and potential risks of the treatment or procedure.

This is what's known as informed consent. Informed consent is made up on two parts, the first being that the information about the treatment or procedure was communicated to the patient. Secondly, the patient must give consent that they understand the procedure and are willing to move forward. Failure of the healthcare provider to give either the information or to receive the consent could mean that informed consent was not successfully achieved.

Beyond understanding the potential benefits or risks associated with a medical procedure or treatment, it's important that the patient understand any alternatives. Alternatives may not be the first recommendation of the healthcare provider for a variety of reasons, but a patient need know they exist. Failure to do so could give grounds for a medical malpractice case against a doctor, healthcare facility or related party.

They say knowledge is power, and when it comes to your health, there is nothing more powerful that understanding your options. It can help bring you to the perfect healthcare solution to deal with any recent diagnosis or injury one may have. Keep in mind, one doctor's recommendations and diagnosis can differ from another doctor's diagnosis and recommendations when getting a second opinion. Understand all the options and healthcare providers are required to get informed consent in most cases.

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