Informed consent in New Jersey means that you have the right to know certain information medical treatments and alternative options, before you have them. Your medical provider must give you details about a treatment, its risks and any reasonable alternatives. Failure to give you the correct information means that your doctor failed to obtain your informed consent. To put it simply, you need to have all of, “the information necessary to evaluate the risks and benefits of all available options. Doctors need to give you enough information so you can make an appropriate medical decision for yourself. Failure for a doctor to obtain informed consent from a patient in New Jersey can be the basis of a lawsuit. The same is true in Pennsylvania, but the law is quite different.
What is Required for Informed Consent in New Jersey?
When you are speaking with a doctor about your treatment, they are required to explain a number of things to you. During that explanation, your medical provider needs to use plain language that you can understand. The information you have a right to know includes:
- A description of your condition, diagnosis, or potential diagnosis.
- Nature and purpose of the treatment.
- The anticipated benefits of that treatment.
- Potential risks, complications and side effects of that treatment.
- The doctor is not required to tell you every single conceivable risk, just those that are material. If there is a chance of death or serious injury, the doctor should disclose this fact. Of course, for the doctor to know any risks that are special to you, they must be familiar with your medical history. You may have a unique medical background which makes certain normally unlikely consequences, more likely to occur for you. Informed consent is specific to the patient.
- Reasonable alternatives and their benefits and risks.
- Reasonable alternatives are those which are medically reasonable for you.
- The doctor should also explain what will happen if you decide to have no treatment at all.
There are exceptions for informed consent obligations in New Jersey. The first and most common exception is when there is an emergency. If the treatment is immediately critical, and you are unable to consent due to your condition, the doctor may go forward with appropriate treatment. Minors are unable to consent, barring certain exceptions. The informed consent is through their parents or guardians. If an adult is unable to consent due to impairment, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian to consent on their behalf.
Requirements for an Informed Consent Lawsuit in New Jersey
When you are hurt by a doctor, if the injury is due to a known risk, you do not have a medical malpractice case, assuming the doctor wasn’t negligent. However, if the doctor failed to obtain informed consent, and you suffered an injury that the doctor failed to warn you about, you may have an informed consent claim. In order to meet the initial requirements for a New Jersey lawsuit, your lawyer needs to show:
- Medical community is aware of the specific risk.
- Doctor failed to explain the risk to you properly.
- Risk came true, i.e. you, got hurt.
- Had you known about the risk, you would have rejected the treatment.
- The standard for proving you would have rejected the treatment is called the “reasonable person” standard. This means that a reasonable person in your position would have chosen not to undergo the treatment, or would have chosen a different treatment, had they known about the risk in question.
Note, the fact you signed an informed consent release does not mean that you provided full consent. The question will be whether the doctor truly explained the risks to you in terms you could understand, and further, provided the other required information, so you could make a fully informed decision.
Do You Have a New Jersey Informed Consent Claim?
When you are injured by a doctor, you may have a medical malpractice case, you may have an informed consent case, or you may even have both. The only way to find out if you have a claim against your doctor, hospital or other medical professional, is to speak with an attorney about your experience and your current health.
Contact Lowenthal & Abrams for Help
At Lowenthal & Abrams, our New Jersey medical malpractice and informed consent lawyers have substantial experience handling claims against injury victims like you. We have one attorney who is a doctor and another who is a nurse. This means they can rapidly review your records to determine if you have a claim.
If you or a loved one was injured by a medical professional, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Let us know what happened to you and we will give you an honest assessment of your case. The consultation is free.