Exploring Social Security Cases and Outcomes

Signing Consent Forms Under Duress: Its Connection To Medical Malpractice

by Marie Caldwell

Under no condition should any patient ever feel pressured by a doctor to have a procedure they do not want. Worse still, if a patient signs a consent form under duress and then suffers irreparable harm, he or she has grounds to sue. If this has recently happened to you, here is what you need to prove that you signed forms under duress and that the doctor is responsible for the act of malpractice under the law.

The Definition of Duress

Duress in legal matters means that you were threatened, coerced, harmed or threatened with harm. Duress, as it applies to signing a document, means that these methods were used to get you to sign a document. An example of this is coercing a woman who is giving birth by saying to her that her baby will have birth defects if she does not agree to a cesarean birth. (Such cases have occurred.) While the threat is not directed at the woman, but at her unborn child, the harm is done to the woman's body and right to choose as a result of this coercion is clear.

You have to prove that such things were said to you that indicated that the hospital staff would somehow mistreat you or someone close to you if you did not sign their consent forms. Usually, two medical staff will be present in the room, but unless another witness (e.g., a spouse) is present, you should just continue to assert yourself and your rights. The extra witness in the room with you helps reaffirm that such things were said, and then you can prove that part of your case.

You Signed the Form under Duress, but Harm Was Done Anyway

Cases like these are two-edged swords. You can sue for both duress and medical malpractice, but the judge may throw out the duress if you cannot prove it. Medical malpractice is any intentional harm or negligent harm to a patient, regardless of other factors involved. That is medical malpractice in a nutshell; you suffered greater injury after being coerced to sign the consent form. At the very least, you lead with duress and win on the malpractice.

You will have to show that the doctor who did the procedure was in the wrong for doing it. You will also have to show the harm was done, which may include pictures of your post-procedure body. It may be a little embarrassing, but that is how you prove your case. To learn more, contact a law firm like Shaevitz Shaevitz & Kotzamanis.