Most people trust that doctors know what is best for them and will give the best advice. All states have different rules regarding informed consent. Informed consent means a doctor must give the patient with all the necessary information they need to make a good choice. The information must also be in terms a patient can easily understand.

Informed consent is an ethical and a legal obligation. When doctors talk about health issues with patients, they should give information on the following: patient diagnosis when available, alternative treatments regardless of costs or if they are covered by insurance, pros and cons of suggested treatment, pros and cons of alternative treatment, and what may happen if they don’t undergo the procedure or treatment.While the doctor is required to follow the law and ask if the patient understands, the patient is still not relieved from doing their part to ask questions and clarify things. For example, if the doctor says they need an endotracheal tube, the patient should ask what it does and why it is necessary.

It should also meet the three approaches accepted by law: subjective standard, reasonable physician standard, and reasonable patient standard. Subjective standard means giving the patient the relevant information they need to know to make a good choice. Most states use the reasonable patient standard approach as default, but a doctor can determine which one is best.

Minors may give consent under certain circumstances in some states based on their maturity. In most cases, a mentally disabled person has a guardian the doctor can ask for consent.

Medical malpractice could result from not following informed consent laws. Patients who feel their consent rights have been violated have the right to legal representation.