“Sounds good?” “Would you like that?” “Is that OK?” “How’s that sound?” “What do you think?” These are very common questions. Whether it’s to simply avoid a future confrontation or to show another person respect, people often ask others questions like these to ensure their ideas sound wise enough to other individuals.

It’s standard practice for doctors to do the same thing. In the medical industry, this is called informed consent. The concept of informed consent is that the more educated a patient is about how a certain treatment works and how it can affect them, the more confidently they can decide whether it’s right for them.

Before treating a patient, it is standard for the physician to explain in great detail what they believe is the best way to address the condition in question, outlining the process of the recommended action and any possible side effects.

The patient—unless they are younger than “consent age” or somehow are mentally unable to make an informed choice, in which case someone else must decide—will then be asked to determine for themselves whether it should be done. If they accept, a document confirming awareness of the risks is usually given for signature.

There are a couple conditions under which physicians are advised not to practice informed consent:

  1. An emergency that calls for rapid action.
  2. A patient being emotionally unable to be rational.

In these cases, physicians are urged to go ahead and try whatever they feel is appropriate. If you find yourself in neither of these situations and your doctor holds back information or does something you never agreed to, you might be able to sue.