What Is the Difference Between Express and Implied Consent? 

When you receive medical care, healthcare practitioners need your permission to perform most procedures. Permission from a patient is known legally as “consent” – and there are two types of consent involved in healthcare settings.

Express consent is direct and clear, usually taking the form of a signed document or verbal agreement. Implied consent is less clear – usually interpreted through a patient’s actions, such as nodding their head or complying with a doctor’s suggestions. 

You have a right as a patient to know and understand the medical treatment you received. This is especially true regarding your right to bodily privacy and your right to know the risks involved with a procedure.

If you were given treatment without your express or implied consent, a Dallas medical malpractice lawyer can help you obtain financial compensation. 

Express consent is a clear and direct statement agreeing to a particular medical treatment. Express consent is usually given in writing through an authorization form supplied by the provider.

In emergency situations, express consent can also be given verbally by the patient after an explanation of the proposed treatment. 

Express consent is usually required when a procedure is risky or complicated. Procedures that can have long-term effects for the patient also require express consent. Express consent is also known as “informed consent” because a doctor is required to inform the patient about the pros and cons of a treatment before the patient decides. 

Some of the information a medical provider must provide for a patient to make informed consent includes: 

  • A description of the illness or medical condition; 
  • A description of the treatment method they propose; 
  • An overview of how the treatment will be administered and why the doctor believes it is the best treatment method; 
  • An explanation of the results that are expected from the treatment; 
  • An explanation of the potential side effects or adverse results of the treatment; 
  • Alternative treatments that may be available. 

Having reviewed all of this information, the patient can then provide express consent for medical treatment. 

Unlike express consent, which is given verbally or in writing, implied consent is based on a patient’s actions. If a patient voluntarily attends a check-up with their physician, for example, their act of showing up and entering the exam room indicates consent to treatment.

However, if the doctor then notices something abnormal that requires invasive treatment, they must get express consent from the patient. 

Implied consent also applies to situations when a patient is unconscious, intoxicated, or otherwise unable to communicate their wishes. Medical personnel will then presume they have implied consent to treat the patient and especially to provide life-saving treatment. 

Whereas express consent can usually be shown through written proof, implied consent is more difficult to prove when disputed. 

Every patient has a right to have a say in the medical treatment they receive. A doctor who ignores a patient’s wishes or doesn’t inform them about the pros and cons of a procedure can potentially be held liable in a medical malpractice claim.

Regardless of the form consent takes – express or implied – consent is vital to the patient and to the practice of medicine in general. 

Even express consent can be given improperly if the patient was not fully informed of the nature of their treatment. For example, handing a patient a pamphlet and asking them to sign a medical authorization on the spot might not constitute express consent even if they get the patient’s signature. The facts and circumstances around when – and how – consent was given are key to a patient’s case later on. 

Skilled personal injury lawyers understand a patient’s rights in a healthcare setting. If a provider gives treatment without a patient’s consent, either express or implied, the patient can be entitled to financial compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Law Firm in Dallas, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Dallas, Texas, and need legal help, contact our Dallas medical malpractice lawyers at Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers
2512 State St,
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 855-1420