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Change Florida "informed consent" law to protect the patient not the medical provider

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When my husband was told that replacement of his aortic valve would improve the quality of his life, he was not told what specific complications could occur as a result of the surgery.  He was only told (and I was there as a witness) that a 4% chance of complications existed.  Neither did the surgeon/hospital inform him/us what actions could be taken to address any complications, what the risks of such actions might be, nor were we given any assurances that remedial action would be taken and what that remedial action would be.  We were also not informed prior to surgery that the surgeon assigned to my husband had been convicted three times by the states of Florida and Georgia for 1) wrong site surgery; 2) wrongful death; 3) fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit. 

Had we known this doctor's history, we would have sought a different, more reputable surgeon to handle my husband's surgery.  Also, had we known the details of potential complications from the surgery in advance, we would have been better prepared to address the situation and make informed decisions, and today my husband might not struggle to swallow without choking, to speak normally, to walk without losing his balance, and to go fishing, to be active in our community, and to play with his grandchildren as he once did. 

As a result of my husband's surgery and attendant stroke, we have discovered that Florida's so-called "Informed Consent" law is designed to protect medical practitioners and medical facilities.  It does not ensure the patient's right to know all the issues involved in a medical intervention including potential risks, available equipment and specialists to address such risks, nor specifics of the medical practitioners' and medical facility's backgrounds--including any disciplinary actions and lawsuits against them or how to locate such information.  Neither does it require a practitioner/facility to state what action(s) if any will be taken to address any complications that may occur from the medical intervention.  There is also no requirement for such information being provided sufficiently in advance of the procedure to allow the patient time to explore and reflect upon the potential outcomes of the procedure.  A typical "informed consent" form includes a statement that the patient has been informed of potential risks involved in the proposed intervention and a place for signature of the patient or patient's representative acknowledging as much.  There is nothing in writing to show what a patient was told.  

Inasmuch as a person has only one chance to make the decision that can either enhance or destroy his/her future, the informed consent law in Florida should be amended to include:

1) No less that one (1) week prior to the proposed procedure, a written presentation shall be provided to the potential patients and their representative(s) which defines all aspects of the procedure, including but not limited to its purpose, any and all potential risks, how those risks may be addressed to either prevent them from occurring or to treat them, and if any such corrective treatments could result in death or permanent injury, to attempt to ascertain whether the patient/representative is willing to take a chance with such corrective procedure.

2) A full written disclosure from the medical practitioner concerning their background, including but not limited to their field of certification and any cases brought against them for medical malpractice, negligence, and/or similar matters, and the outcome of those proceedings. Disclosure shall also include information concerning the involvement of any governmental entity, including the State of Florida, in such proceedings against the practitioner

3) Full written disclosure by the medical facility describing what equipment and staff they have/will have available to address any potential problems arising from the procedure, e.g. CT scan, neurologist, etc.

4) Set aside sufficient time prior to scheduling the procedure for the patient/representative to fully discuss with the doctor/medical practitioner the procedure and any and all related risks and treatments there for. At no time shall the patient/representative be placed in the position of having to hurry through such discussion or have it ended without the patient/representative acknowledging a full and complete understanding.

5) Failure to fulfill all of these requirements will be grounds to nullify the "Informed" consent of the patient/representative.


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