Medical research and experimentation can produce new and exciting medical treatment, but concerns may arise when patients receive innovative or experimental treatment without fully understanding the risks involved. The use of experimental or innovative treatments also may expose the health care provider to malpractice liability.
Experimental treatments may carry a higher level of risk than an established form of treatment, particularly because risks of the treatment are more likely to be unknown. These unknown risks increase the difficulty a health care provider may face in disclosing risks of treatment to a patient to obtain the patient’s informed consent. When patient injuries arise, litigation may follow.
Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with obtaining a patient’s informed consent to experimental treatment and in providing experimental and innovative treatments.