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Do Release Forms Protect Doctors, Surgeons, and Hospitals from Malpractice?

March 18, 2024

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Patients are often required to sign release forms before undergoing many types of medical treatments, from major surgeries to minor outpatient procedures. These forms are intended to acknowledge the patient's consent to the procedure and understanding of the risks involved.

However, many patients wonder whether these release forms protect doctors, surgeons, and hospitals from malpractice claims if they suffer unexpected adverse outcomes. Understanding the scope and power of release forms is important for patients who are seeking compensation through medical malpractice claims.

What Purpose Do Release Forms Serve?

Release forms in medicine are documents that patients are required to sign before undergoing a medical procedure or treatment. These forms serve as a testament that the patient has been thoroughly informed about the specifics of the procedure, including its nature, the potential risks and benefits, and any alternatives available.

They ensure that the patient's decision to proceed with the treatment is made with a full understanding of what will happen as well as what might happen. Additionally, these forms act as legal documentation, providing legal evidence that the patient was informed about and consented to the procedure, which are requirements in the medical field.

The Scope of Protection of Release Forms

Release forms can offer a degree of protection to healthcare providers from malpractice claims by serving as documentation that the patient was informed and consented to the procedure and that they understood its risks and potential outcomes when they agreed to the procedure.

This can be crucial if a patient later files a malpractice claim, as the form can demonstrate that the healthcare provider fulfilled their duty to inform the patient. However, it's important to note that these forms do not absolve healthcare providers from liability in cases of negligence or deviation from the standard of care.

What Release Forms Don't Do

Release forms are important tools for healthcare providers, clinics, and hospitals, but they are often assigned more power in public perception than they actually have.

Here’s what release forms don’t do:

  • Not a Waiver of Rights: Signing a release form does not mean a patient waives their right to pursue legal action if malpractice occurs.
  • No Protection Against Negligence: If a healthcare provider is negligent or deviates from the accepted standard of care, a release form does not protect them from liability.
  • Cannot Mask Inadequate Care: A release form is not a defense against failure to diagnose, errors in treatment, or other forms of medical negligence.

What Types of Procedures Might Require Patients Signing Release Forms?

Release forms are typically involved in medical scenarios where there are notable risks or significant decisions to be made by the patient.

These scenarios include:

  • Surgical procedures where there are inherent risks of complications or adverse outcomes
  • Diagnostic procedures that might have potential side effects or risks, such as biopsies or cardiac catheterization
  • Treatments that involve the use of potent drugs, radiation, or other therapies with potential for serious side effects, like chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Even relatively routine or non-invasive procedures may require release forms if there are specific risks associated with the procedure or the patient's condition. The aim is to ensure that patients are making informed decisions about their healthcare, fully aware of the potential benefits and risks.

How Can a Lawyer Help if I Signed a Release Form Before my Treatment?

Navigating the complexities of medical malpractice and medical treatment-related release forms requires experienced legal guidance. For patients who believe they have been the victim of malpractice, it’s crucial to consult with an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

An experienced legal advocate on your side can:

  • Review Your Case: Your lawyer can assess the details of your case, the specific language of the signed release forms, and the standard of care provided.
  • Provide Legal Insight: Your lawyer can offer insights into the viability of a malpractice claim and the legal implications of the signed release form.
  • Advocate on Your Behalf: Your lawyer will represent your and your family’s best interests, whether in negotiating a settlement or pursuing a lawsuit.

Contact Our Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been affected by what you believe to be medical malpractice, don't let a signed release form deter you from seeking legal advice. The journey towards justice and fair compensation begins with a conversation.

Contact the Ohio medical malpractice attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today for a free case review. We’ll review the facts of what happened and determine if the release form you signed has much, if any, impact on your ability to pursue compensation for your damages.

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