Clients often comment that their friends or families discouraged them from hiring a medical malpractice lawyer because they signed a consent form for treatment. They admit that they were a little embarrassed just to walk through the doors of Painter Law Firm.
By the way, waving the consent form around like a holy relic is one of the favorite tricks of attorneys defending hospitals and doctors. Just yesterday, I presented my client for deposition in a medical malpractice wrongful death case arising from the loss of his wife. True to form, a defense lawyer whipped out a consent form and asked him if his deceased wife or another family member had signed it.
If a patient signs a consent form, does that mean he or she can’t file a lawsuit if there’s an injury because of medical malpractice? The answer is a resounding NO.
The purpose of a consent form is to make a record of an informed consent discussion between the doctor and patient. It’s designed to make sure that the patient understands the risks of a procedure and, while understanding them, gives the physician and hospital permission to proceed with treatment.
To be sure, there are risks of virtually any surgery or treatment that can happen even with appropriate care. It’s sometimes just part of life that bad things happen to good people.
On the other hand—and much to the disappointment of hospitals, doctors, and their lawyers—if a physician, nurse, or other healthcare provider makers a mistake or provides sub-standard care that leads to injury, a consent form doesn’t excuse that conduct. Well, that is, unless family, friends, and health care providers can convince you otherwise.
In my experience, one of the most common surgical complications covered by the consent form is injury to adjacent structures. For example, the surgeon accidentally punctures the small intestine (bowel perforation) while removing the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). The bowel perforation itself isn’t negligence. Failure to identify the injury to the bowel, though, and correcting and treating it in a timely fashion is a mistake not excused by the consent form.
I encourage anyone who was seriously injured in a health care setting to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to evaluate the potential case and provide some answers.
We are here to help
Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800, for a free initial consultation.
Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.