Guides

Understanding your rights as a patient undergoing invasive procedures

cosmetic-surgery-your-rights

As a patient, you have a certain number of rights that should be respected prior to undergoing any invasive procedures. Patients who are well-informed tend to be more satisfied with the outcome of their treatment as a result.

Here’s a few things you should know before you commit to undergoing any invasive procedure.

You must give consent

Under common law, all adults need to provide consent before undergoing any medical treatment or operation. If consent isn’t established, there may be legal ramifications. Consent can be implied, verbal or written and it must meet the following requirements:

  • The adult must have the capacity to consent or refuse treatment
  • The consent must be given voluntarily
  • The consent must relate to the procedure in question
  • The adult must be providing informed consent

You should be well-informed

In providing consent, the patient must be well-informed about the specific treatment or surgery. A part of this is understanding the potential risks or complications that could occur during or following the procedure.

Patients should also be provided with information about the treatment options and the benefits of the surgery in order to make their own decisions prior to accepting the procedure. They should understand the type of anaesthesia being administered, the recovery periods and all the costs associated with the procedure.

You have the right to refuse treatment

As a patient, you have the right to refuse treatment regardless of your reasons. In the event a practitioner fails to respect the patient’s decision, a claim of assault or battery could be made.

As with consent, refusal of treatment must be provided freely and be very specific. This is particularly relevant in the event the patient’s circumstances change. Refusal should then be confirmed ether verbally or in writing.

You can make a medical negligence claim

Patients who believe they have incurred injury as a result of the cosmetic surgery providers lack of skill or care can make a medical negligence claim under common law. Depending on the individual situation, patient’s generally have three options:

  1. Approach your cosmetic surgery and agree on a solution to rectify the problem. This may mean additional treatment, time off work for recovery or medication to improve healing.
  2. Submit a complaint to your state or territory complaint body. This is relevant if your issue is based on misconduct as generally they don’t help with treatment failings.
  3. Contact a lawyer and request advice on making a formal claim.

Prior to making a medical negligence claim, patient’s must be able to prove that the treatment received by the practitioner was negligent. It’s important to understand, not every error of failure of the surgeon is considered negligent.

Tips to ensure your rights are being met

Having open and clear communication with your practitioner is vital to ensure your rights are being met prior to undergoing intensive surgery. These suggestions my help you improve your relationship with your cosmetic surgeon:

  1. If you’re not clear on the procedure, ask as many questions until you’re well-informed.
  2. Take notes to ensure you understand the treatment and the risks involved.
  3. Ask a close family member or friend to accompany you in the consultation prior to your surgery if you need additional support.
  4. Request printed material on the specific procedure.
  5. Request instructions about pre-and post-operative care be written down for you.
  6. Ask your practitioner about their experience and credentials.

Discuss all the costs associated with the treatment and post-operative care.

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