The law in New York State states that a podiatrist, and other health care providers, must get the patient’s consent to the surgery after giving the patient information including the risks, benefits, and alternatives to surgery, including NOT HAVING THE SURGERY at all. You should also be given the risks and benefits of the ALTERNATIVES so you can compare those to the surgery your podiatrist is proposing to perform on you.
Most consider a signed consent form, without any further explanation, inadequate as an informed consent. The law does not say whether this is sufficient or not. In fact, your podiatrist should sit down with you and explain the surgery to you. You should probably be shown your x-rays and maybe diagrams so you understand what bones inside your foot will be cut, moved, shifted, and then pinned or screwed together. You then must be given a written consent form and you must be allowed to read it and understand it without being rushed.
Too many times clients describe being handed a consent form along with a myriad of other papers to sign while they are sitting in the operating chair as they are being made ready for surgery. Or they are given all of these papers to sign sitting at the billing assistant’s desk just before surgery. While most podiatrist do not handle the consent form in this way, those who do, and who go on to commit malpractice, will be forced to explain why they gave you the form seconds before the first incision is made into your foot.
Even if the surgery is properly performed, if the patient does not give a truly informed consent, and there is a bad result from the surgery, the patient may still sue the podiatrist on the legal theory of “lack of informed consent.” This is especially true in podiatry since most foot surgeries are elective (not life threatening) and there is no rush to do it (there are some exceptions such as surgery for infections or possible cancer such as melanoma). In many cases, when the patient realizes the risks of surgery and compares them with the benefits, it is obvious that they should not have the surgery or they should get a second opinion.