Surgical Risk: What You Should Know Before You Sign Off
Allison Hugh, a Bronx, NY, resident, underwent a thigh lift procedure in 2005 after consulting with plastic surgeon, Dr. Ferdinand Ofodile. The doctor, however, did not discuss the surgical risks with Hugh nor did he receive her informed consent for performing a medical thigh lift, as well a lateral thigh lift.
Complications arose which left Hugh with a deformed thigh. Hugh filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon. In 2009, a jury awarded her $60 million, the largest verdict at that time for a plastic surgery case in New York. A New York medical malpractice lawyer was instrumental in helping bringing closure to this case.
Although the New York Appellate Court reduced the damages to $600,000, two years later, this case highlights how important it is for doctors to inform their patients of the risks involved in surgical procedures before a patient consents to having the procedure done.
Before patients undergo surgery, tests or treatment, doctors are expected to have a conversation with their patients about the procedure. In speaking with their patients, doctors should:
- Discuss the medical procedure.
- Explain the risks involved in the procedure.
- Ask if they understand the procedure and have questions.
- Review the health condition for which they are being treated.
After this, doctors will give patients a consent form to sign that says among other things, that patients agrees to undergo this medical procedure and will not hold the doctor liable should any complications occur.
Before You Sign on the Dotted Line
You do not have to immediately sign, even though you may be feeling pressure from your physician to do so. If you are in poor health and want to feel better as soon as possible, you may want to sign and assume the risks. However, if you do not fully understand the process, then you will want to ask questions before you sign, such as:
- Do I really need to undergo this procedure?
- Is there an alternative to undergoing this procedure?
- How many times have you performed this procedure?
- What will happen to me if I don’t undergo this procedure?
- Are you going to perform the procedure or will you have a resident/intern perform it?
Asking questions should help you in pursuing a medical malpractice claim, should complications occur. If the doctor does not give you straightforward, honest answers to your questions, he or she is concealing information that might have made you change your mind about having the procedure.
What Happens if Complications Occur?
Just because you signed a consent form does not mean that you cannot pursue a claim, should complications occur during the procedure. You can pursue a claim if your doctor or his or her assistants:
- Did not disclose all of the risks that could occur during the procedure.
- Performed a procedure that was not previously discussed with you.
- Did not follow the protocols for the procedure.
If your health is worse than it was before the procedure, speak to your doctor about the problem. If your health does not improve over time and you are not satisfied with your doctor’s treatment, consult with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss the legal options that are available to you under your state law.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and contributing author for several blogs. She contributes this article to explore the risk associated with surgical procedures. New York medical malpractice lawyer group, The Perecman Law Firm, has many years of experience and vast knowledge defending the legal rights of victims who have suffered from the negligence of medical professional.
Tags: Surgical Risk
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