A person who does not have adequate experience in the medical field will not know medical terms and jargon. They could not tell the difference between a laminectomy and a neurotomy. Therefore, consent alone is not enough.
A doctor cannot perform any medical procedure on an individual unless they get their informed consent. You should know all the relevant information about your treatment before they can ask for your consent.
A deeper look into informed consent in Georgia
It is your doctor’s duty to inform you about the material risks involved with undergoing the procedure and explain to you why it is necessary for your condition. Your doctor must tell you the nature and purpose of the procedure. They must also disclose less invasive options or practical alternatives if applicable to your case. According to Georgia laws, the doctor must get the informed consent of any person before performing any of the following on them:
- Any surgical procedure where the patient needs to be under general anesthesia, spinal anesthesia or major regional anesthesia
- An amniocentesis diagnostic procedure
- A diagnostic procedure that involves the intravenous or intraductal injection of a contrast material (O.C.G.A. § 31-9-6.1)
However, a doctor does not have to obtain your informed consent in emergency situations. Informed consent is also unnecessary if the surgery or diagnostic procedure does not pose a material risk to you. Any doctor executing their duty with reasonable prudence should recognize when they have a legal obligation to get your informed consent. Otherwise, you may be able to file a claim against them for medical malpractice.
Why does a doctor need your informed consent?
Before undergoing surgery or a major medical procedure, you want to have full disclosure of the treatment and your diagnosis so you can make an informed decision. It is your life and your body on the line. If you do not know the material risks and are unaware of less invasive alternatives, how will you be able to decide what is best for you? You always have the right to accept or refuse any treatment.