Did your podiatrist fail to get your informed consent for a procedure?

Your podiatrist, like all doctors, is required to get your informed consent before performing any procedure on your feet or ankles. If your podiatrist failed in this fundamental duty of care and you are suffering pain and/or restricted mobility as a result, you may well be a victim of podiatry malpractice. To find out whether you are entitled to damages, contact Lawrence M. Karam, PC of Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York.

Attorney Karam has been successfully litigating cases of podiatric malpractice for decades. He has the in-depth knowledge and sharp legal skills to investigate your case thoroughly, carefully examine all relevant medical records, and forcefully negotiate with opposing attorneys and insurance companies on your behalf. If negotiations break down, he is always well-prepared to litigate.

Whether you have gone through the awful experience of systemic infection due to poor postsurgical care, or a foot deformity that is painful and debilitating, he will fight aggressively to help you obtain the compensation you deserve for uncovered medical costs, lost income, pain, and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What exactly is informed consent?

Under federal and New York State law, all doctors including podiatrists must provide their patients with enough information about their treatment so that they can make an informed decision about recommended treatment.

The law recognizes four basic components of informed consent:

  • Decision capacity
  • Documentation of consent
  • Disclosure
  • Competency

While patients are assumed to consent for noninvasive physical examinations, they must be given the opportunity to give explicit, written consent for invasive tests, treatments, or surgical procedures. 

In order to freely give your informed consent, you must comprehend all pertinent information and must voluntarily grant your consent, without coercion or duress. If your podiatrist threatened you with dire consequences (e.g. inability to walk, gross deformity) or pushed you to decide immediately and schedule surgery at once, you may well be a victim of podiatric malpractice.

The Purpose of Informed Consent

The right to informed consent and the right to refuse treatment are important civil rights since they give patients autonomy involving control over their own bodies. If you have been deprived of that right, your podiatrist may not only owe you compensation but, depending on the circumstances, may suffer other legal consequences.

Exceptions to the Need for Informed Consent

There are situations in which informed consent isn’t required. For instance, in most cases, minors can’t provide informed consent so their parents or guardians assume this responsibility. 

Also, in life-threatening emergencies in which the patient is unable to give consent (e.g. is unconscious or suffers from dementia), the doctor should seek out a family member as a “surrogate decision-maker.” If no one is available, the doctor believes that a life-saving procedure is necessary, he has the legal right to take action. 

Nonetheless, it should be remembered that the fact that the podiatrist believes the patient is making the “wrong” decision is not grounds for declaring her “incompetent.” Patients maintain the primary right to refuse treatment even when the doctor feels strongly that it is necessary.

How do I know if I gave informed consent?

The ASRA (American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine) lists six basic features that make up informed consent:

  • Diagnosis 
  • Nature/purpose of treatment or procedure
  • Risks and benefits of proposed treatment or procedure
  • Alternatives to the proposed treatment or procedure
  • The risk and benefits of alternative methods
  • The risks and benefits of not having the treatment or procedure

Though extremely important, the last two items on this list are too often ignored or rushed through in patient/doctor discussions. Doctors seeking informed consent should always answer these two questions — whether the patient asks them or not: Are there other possible solutions for this problem? What are potential outcomes if no medical action is taken?

Contact Our Experienced Podiatry Malpractice Attorney Today

If you feel you have been mistreated by your podiatrist, get in touch with Lawrence Karam for excellent legal counsel and representation. He will do everything in his power to see that justice is done.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.