Informed consent is one of the fundamental rules of medical ethics. As a patient, you have the right to control what healthcare procedures you undergo, but most laypeople lack in-depth medical knowledge, so your rights are protected by informed consent, meaning that you cannot fully consent to a procedure or treatment until you know enough about it to make an informed decision.

The informed consent law requires a doctor to explain the benefits and risks associated with a medical procedure and get your permission to perform it before treatment can begin. If they fail to do so, then they can face professional misconduct charges and even lose their license to practice medicine.

Last May, the New York state Senate passed a bill that strengthened the informed consent requirement for all healthcare examinations and procedures, including those carried out as part of a medical training or education program. It had already passed the Assembly in March and the Senate approval sent it directly to the governor’s desk.

Why was the bill proposed?

Issues have arisen in the past because unconscious patients cannot provide permission for additional procedures or examinations after treatment begins. The new bill will require patients to provide written consent for any unrelated and additional procedures that the doctor may deem necessary after anesthesia has been administered. Examples include intimate examinations like rectal, prostate, or pelvic exams.

Are there exceptions?

The bill provides for exceptions to the informed consent rule. These exceptions, which are already in place, apply in cases when the patient is in a coma, mentally incompetent, or experiencing a medical crisis that makes it impossible for them to provide consent.

Consent is critical

It is the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that patients are fully informed about the medical care they receive—both the good and the bad. This is what makes informed consent violations a form of medical malpractice.

If the bill is passed, then any New York doctor can be held responsible if they perform any invasive tests or exams while you are unconscious and cannot give permission. Depending on the circumstances, you could have a medical malpractice claim against the physician.

It is also important to note that even when you sign an informed consent document, you do not surrender your right to be provided with a proper standard of care. You are entitled to protection from medical negligence, and if a doctor makes a mistake that changes your life for the worse, you are entitled to an appropriate amount of compensation. A New York personal injury attorney who handles malpractice claims can determine what legal remedies are available and help you pursue whatever compensation you may be entitled to. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx medical malpractice and accident lawyer. He has helped injured clients recover money to help them with medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person individual consultations. To learn more, call 718-514-6619.