From Common Law to Statute

Virtually all states recognize, either by express statute or common law, the right to receive information about one’s medical condition, the treatment choices, risks associated with the treatments, possible outcomes, and prognoses. Generally, the law requires that medical information be in plain language terms that can readily be understood and in sufficient amounts such that a patient is able to make an “informed” decision about his or her health care. If the patient has received this information (and is otherwise competent to receive the information), any consent to treatment that is given will be presumed to be an “informed consent.” A doctor who fails to obtain informed consent for non-emergency treatment may be charged with a civil and/or criminal offense. In 1972, the American Medical Association (AMA) incorporated the concept of informed consent in its Patient’s Bill of Rights movement, and almost all state versions of patient rights include provisions related to informed consent.


Inside From Common Law to Statute