What is Informed Consent and How Can it be Medical Malpractice in Minnesota

Understanding Informed Consent in Minnesota: How is it Medical Malpractice and Why it is Important 


It is cliché to say, but it is absolutely accurate that your body is your temple.  Your body is sacred.  You only get one, and many serious injuries and damage to it cannot be repaired.  Certain injuries will permanent affect your life and cause debilitating effects for your and your family.  This is why the law in the United States, including Minnesota, as developed the doctrine of informed consent to allow patients to have absolute control of what happens to their body.


Unfortunately, some healthcare professionals either do not care about your rights or do not take your thoughts into consideration.  When this happens it can result in medical malpractice, even if the result is medically correct.  This is because the law protects the autonomy of patients and the concrete voice patient’s have to determining the healthcare they receive.  If you had a medical procedure performed on you without your permission, read on to learn more about your rights.


What is Informed Consent?


Informed consent is exactly what it sounds like—an informed consent or approval of a medical procedure.  Breaking this principle down, there are two parts to satisfying this doctrine.  First, there must be and “informed” decision.  This means that the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a medical procedure are explained to a patient before the procedure is performed and before the patient agrees to have the procedure performed.  This means that questions from the patient must be explained and issues resolved.


The second part of informed consent is the agreement to have the medical procedure or treatment performed.  This must be before the procedure is performed. The consent must be when the patient is cognizant and able to consent, such as before anesthesia is rendered and when the patient is in the right state of mind to consent (having capacity to consent).


There are exceptions to informed consent, such as when there is a medical emergency and the patient is unable to consent due to the emergency—such as a car accident.  In that situation, consent will be implied where there is the threat of imminent and irreversible damage to a person’s life and limb.


How is Informed Consent Violated?


Given the above, it may sound like consent is always given and a non-issue.  While in most situations that is true, there are instances where informed consent becomes a big problem.  In fact, informed consent is actually most famously illustrated in the Minnesota Supreme Court case of Mohr v. Williams which is over a hundred years old but still taught in nearly every law school to nearly every lawyer in the country.


In Mohr, the plaintiff had a diseased right ear and went to an excellent ear surgeon who opined the right ear needed immediate surgery.  The patient consent to having the right ear operated on.  When the patient was anesthetized, the expert surgeon determined that the right ear was actually not as bad as he had thought once.  He looked at the left ear and observed that it was in a much worse state and in need of immediate treatment.  He performed the same ear operation on the left ear and did so in a perfect manner with a great result to the patient.  When the patient woke up, she had not consented to the left ear surgery and wanted her right ear repaired where her pain was, therefore she commenced a lawsuit which included lack of informed consent.  The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that, while the surgery was performed correctly, the surgery was performed without the patient’s informed consent on the left ear.  Therefore, the Supreme Court found that the doctor had violated the patient’s rights and ruled in the patient’s favor.


Was a Surgery Performed on You Without Informed Consent?  Call for Medical Malpractice Advice Today!


If you or a loved one have been injured due to the medical malpractice of a healthcare provider such as a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other health care service professional, call Kuhlman Law, LLC for a FREE consultation by dialing (612) 444-3374 to learn what your rights to compensation may be.  If we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough review of your case and advise you whether there may have been a serious medical mistake causing your injury.   There is no risk, and you do not owe us money unless we win your case.

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