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    How well do you know the law?

    Dermatologist and lawyer Mathew M. Avram, M.D., J.D., explains what cosmetic physicians need to know about the law and how to decrease lawsuit risks.


    Patient Consent

    It’s the physician’s duty, before providing any treatment — whether it’s medical, cosmetic, oral or topical — to explain all the risks and benefits of that treatment.

    The best evidence that the physician has fulfilled that duty is with a patient-signed consent.

    “If the physician has a consent to perform the procedure, the physician still has the duty to do it in a non-negligent manner,” Dr. Avram says. “The consent form is not going to protect you from the lawsuit. The consent form is just saying that the patient understands the risks and benefits of the procedure, as they were explained by the physician. And the patient sees, on the consent form, what those risks and benefits are.”

    Cosmetic physicians should not have patient consent forms that read like mortgage or lease agreements. Rather, the writing should be plain and simple, easy to understand and feature the risks and benefits of a given treatment in big, bold type, according to Dr. Avram.

    Physicians still have a duty to also verbally explain a treatment.

    At that point, if patients who sign the forms claim they didn’t understand what they were signing, the burden of proof is on them to prove it, according to Dr. Avram.

    NEXT: Indicators of Lawsuit Risk

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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