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Informed Consent

Bridgeport Dental Malpractice Attorneys Explain Informed Consent

Experienced lawyers represent patients denied the information they deserved

One of the most common reasons for bringing a dental malpractice lawsuit is a dentist’s failure to obtain informed consent from the patient prior to administering a treatment. Patients are entitled to receive a clear explanation of the treatment, the potential risks of the treatment versus no treatment, and whether there are alternatives. When a dentist fails to properly inform a patient about any of these matters, he or she has failed to fulfill a duty of care and could be liable for malpractice in the event of an injury. At MeehanLaw, LLC, our Bridgeport dental malpractice lawyers are deeply familiar with the rules of informed consent in dentistry and have handled numerous injury claims involving this issue. You can trust us to investigate the circumstances of your case and hold your dentist accountable if you were deprived of informed consent.

What does “informed consent” mean in dentistry?

Informed consent is what a dentist (or a doctor) must receive from a patient before treating that patient. Both types of medical professionals are required to inform patients of their diagnoses and ensure they understand the procedure being recommended, the benefits and risks of treatment, and the benefits and risks of alternatives before consenting to a course of treatment. The dentist obtains informed consent through a dialogue in which patient and dentist discuss the situation and agree on a plan.

Components of informed consent

To obtain informed consent from a patient, a dentist must satisfy several requirements:

  • Description of the diagnosis — This could be as simple as explaining there are cavities that need to be filled or as complex as explaining that the patient has advanced gum disease that requires intensive treatment.
  • Explanation of the treatment plan — The dentist must present the treatment plan to the patient and explain the reasons why this is the right approach.
  • Alternative treatment plans — Dentists must present all alternative treatments that would lead to an equally positive result. This is true even if the dentist doesn’t provide the alternative treatment in his/her office. In that case, the dentist should provide a referral.
  • Potential risks of treatment — Every dental procedure carries some degree of risk, and this must be explained to the patient. The dentist must explain the reasonable risks. Reasonableness is key; dentists do not need to explain every possible complication — only those with a reasonable degree of likelihood.
  • Potential risks of no treatment — If a patient refuses treatment after receiving all the information, the dentist must explain the risks of refusing treatment. For example, if a patient refuses to have an abscessed tooth treated, the dentist must explain that the infection could spread to the jaw, other parts of the head, the brain and potentially lead to sepsis, a life-threatening complication in which infection spreads throughout the bloodstream.

Typically, having a patient sign a written, blanket consent form is not sufficient. The dentist needs to have a genuine discussion with the patient and explain all the details. The dentist may then have the patient sign a consent form, but it should include customized language that addresses that patient’s specific needs. If you were injured by a dental treatment and denied the right to give informed consent before undergoing the procedure, we will advocate for your rights to full compensation.

Contact a skilled Connecticut dental malpractice lawyer to explain your rights to informed consent

From our Bridgeport office, MeehanLaw, LLC represent clients throughout Connecticut who were injured through dental malpractice. If your dentist subjected you to a procedure without informing you of the risks and you were injured, we will advise you on the potential for filing a lawsuit. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling 203-333-1888 or contacting us online today.

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  • Bridgeport Office
    76 Lyon Terrace
    Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604
    Phone: 203-333-1888
    Fax: 203-331-0107