Doctors are required to incorporate informed consent into every single job because there’s never really a guarantee that a medical treatment or procedure will go quite the way planned. This concept is based on the idea that there’s always going to be some risk of harm resulting from the work being done. The physician explains the decision they’re contemplating and the potential effects of it, and then the patient can make an informed decision of whether it’s worth the danger. Patients then sign formal documents, stating that they understand what could happen.

The law does not require that a physician warns a client of every possible consequence of a procedure. However, Illinois law does require that they explain every predictable consequence, as well as any alternative options for care. The state says that one cannot successfully get their doctor punished for medical malpractice unless there is sufficient evidence that they were never given enough reason to consider declining the suggested service.

For situations of more urgent care, like emergency room surgery, doctors are usually exempt from accountability regardless of the patient’s response to their suggestions. When some medical work has to be done quickly, it’s just too big a time-eater to discuss what might go wrong; often times it’s a true “do or die” situation. If the action discussed ends up being different than the one actually done, and the physician included warnings in the talk, the patient usually can sue. If the physician finds an unexpected issue during the service, any harm following the work may go by unpunished; permission for a “plan B” or “new step” is not considered necessary.