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Risk Matters: Informed Consent

Informed consent is often the most important discussion that physicians will have with their patients, but unfortunately, it is sometimes viewed as merely obtaining a signature on a pre-printed form.  While lack of informed consent is rarely the central issue in a malpractice lawsuit, it is almost always included as an additional allegation.  For this reason, it is important to keep in mind that, while the physician may be assisted by other healthcare professionals in providing consent-relevant patient education and/or obtaining a signature on the consent form, the individual who actually renders the care is legally and ethically responsible for providing the information upon which the consent is obtained.  What does this mean? When a lack of informed consent claim is alleged, it will typically be asserted against the physician and not the nurse or non-physician staff who obtained the signature on the form.  From a risk management perspective, the informed consent process plays a vital role in minimizing exposure to medical negligence lawsuits because it involves patients in their medical treatment and helps keep expectations realistic.

About The Author

Jeffrey A. Woods is the Director of Risk Education in the Risk Education and Evaluation Services Department at SVMIC. Jeff received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee Martin and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Following graduation, he practiced law in Knoxville for almost 15 years, advising physicians and healthcare providers and defending them in malpractice claims. He is licensed to practice in Tennessee and all Federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Jeff joined SVMIC in 2003 and was a Senior Claims Attorney until 2015 when he transferred to his current position.

The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.

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