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Examining exceptions to the need for informed consent

Many of those in Springfield who come to see us at the offices of Donovan and O’Connor following a medical error feel as though their doctors overstepped the boundaries of informed consent in their treatment. In the patient care process, the patient is meant to have the final say in what sort of treatment is administered. The need for patient consent typically applies to all patient care scenarios. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. We’ll examine those in this post.

So much importance is placed on having patient consent because it puts the patient in complete control of his or her care. Considerations are given, though, that recognize the provider’s expertise. According to the Journal of Ethics from the American Medical Association, there are two exceptions to a physician needing informed consent before proceeding with treatment:

  • When a patient is unconscious or in a state where he or she is unable to give consent
  • When the intended benefit of the treatment outweighs the potential for harm that the treatment presents

There are also exceptions to when a doctor is required to disclose the risks associated with treatment. He or she is not required to name potential risks that could come from the procedure being performed incorrectly. Risks also do not need to be disclosed if the provider believes that if the patient knows them, he or she would be psychologically distressed enough to not be able to make a rational decision. A physician cannot, however, withhold risk information if he or she simply fears the patient will refuse treatment.

For more information on lack of informed consent, please visit our Medical Malpractice page. 

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