Informed Consent and Duty to Disclose

Let's say you visit your doctor and after the examination, they tell you that you need a certain treatment; the doctor has an obligation to provide the necessary information that allows your consent to be informed. So, what does a doctor need to disclose that makes that consent informed?

The Standard For A Physician's Duty To Disclose

The basic standard is that a physician must disclose all the relevant information about your medical procedure. In South Carolina, the doctrine of informed consent states a physician has a duty to disclose the following:

  • Diagnosis
  • General nature of the procedure
  • Material risks involved in the procedure
  • Probability of success associated with the procedure
  • Prognosis if the procedure is not carried out
  • Existence of any alternatives to the procedure

If a doctor fails to disclose important information, he or she may be liable for medical malpractice. To be able to recover compensation from a doctor for medical negligence, you have to show he or she deviated from the standard of care and that the deviation caused your injury.

The scope of a physician's duty to disclose is that which a reasonable medical practitioner in the same branch of medicine would make under the same or similar circumstances.

Can You Sue A Doctor For Failing Their Duty To Disclose?

You can take legal action if you suffered an injury because your doctor unreasonably failed to disclose information.

Courts in South Carolina have said the question of whether a physician has acted unreasonably often involves the exercise of medical judgment. In most cases, expert medical testimony is necessary to establish negligence in failing to adequately disclose the information necessary for a patient to give informed consent.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has held that in any "area beyond the realm of ordinary lay knowledge, expert testimony will usually be necessary to establish both the standard of care and the defendant's departure therefrom."

Speak With An Attorney

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you assess whether your doctor may have violated the duty to disclose and whether your facts present a viable case of malpractice.