No one likes to have surgery, but it may be necessary if there is no other way your injury or illness can get better. Surgeries can be dangerous, and for that reason, you’ll have to sign an informed consent form in which you will state that you agree with the surgery and know about its potential risks. However, before signing it, there are certain things that your doctor must tell you.
When consent is necessary
The law in Georgia states that a patient must sign an informed consent form if they undergo a surgical procedure under general, spinal or major regional anesthesia. You must also sign a consent form if your surgery requires an intravenous injection of contrast material. If you don’t sign the consent form, your doctor cannot start the procedure unless it is an emergency and not having the surgery could put your life or health at risk. Consent is not necessary either if it is known that the surgery does not have risks or if you previously allowed your doctor to make your medical decisions.
What you must know before you sign
When you sign the form, you are stating that you understand everything about your surgery. Unless you are a doctor, you probably won’t know about the possible risks of the procedure. That is why your doctor must inform you of:
- The nature and purpose of the surgery
- The risks of the surgery
- The likelihood of success of the proposed surgery
- The alternatives to the surgery
- The possible outcomes if the surgery does not work
Your doctor must explain everything to you with patience, and if you have questions, you must ask them before signing. The doctor can give you this information in writing, video or audio tapes, pamphlets or through any other means of communication.
Making a decision
Once you know about the purpose and the risks of the surgery, you will need to decide whether you want to have it or not. Your doctor must inform you if there are any alternatives to the surgery, but if they say it is strictly necessary, you should consider getting a second opinion before consenting to the medical procedure. That way, you will know if you really need it.
When information is not given
If you’ve already had the surgery, and it injured you, you may file a medical malpractice claim against your doctor if neither they nor the form informed you about its risks. For this, you will need to prove that your injuries resulted from the surgery and that you would have not accepted the procedure if you had known about the risks or possible alternatives. A doctor must properly inform you about your surgery, and if they did not do it, you have the right to fight back and exercise your rights.