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Does signing a consent form preclude you from any legal action?

Like most in Providence County, you are likely familiar with the concept of a liability waiver. Such a document is typically offered by an activity or service provider, and your signing it may preclude you from seeking legal action should something go wrong. Yet do such documents exist in healthcare? They do, however you may not be aware of when and where you encounter them. It happens when you the sign for consent for treatment.

You may think that signing a medical consent form only gives a healthcare provider permission to treat you. By consenting to be treated, however, you also may be stating that you understand what potential complications may arise from a procedure. Even if you do end up experiencing such complications, if it is shown that you were mentally capability of signing your consent form, that you were not pressured to sign the form, and that the form adequately addressed the risks associated with your procedure, you may not be able to take any action.

The legal protections that consent forms offer healthcare providers are not ironclad, however. There may be cases where you can successfully challenge the validity of such a form. One may be if the particular complication or side effect that you experienced was not identified on the form, nor was it detailed by your provider.

The other may be if the form did not clearly describe the complications linked to a procedure. In some cases, forms that are too technical could fall under this scenario. Providers are required to make forms understandable to a laymen. For example, the Institutional Review Board for Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends consent forms be written to an 8th grade reading level. You could potential argue that technical jargon beyond a comparable level is too difficult to fully comprehend.

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