Imagine this scenario...
You need surgery.
The doctor tells you you must have the surgery.
After your office consultation with the doctor, a nurse hands you 10 pages of forms that you must read and sign in order to have the surgery.
You're in a rush.
You really don't want to read 10 pages worth of fine print.
You think you know and understand what's contained in all of these documents.
You've been through this before.
The doctor needs your permission in order to go ahead and do your surgery.
You get it.
Otherwise, that would be battery.
He wants your written permission to go ahead and do the surgery.
He also wants you to sign a piece of paper known as an informed consent.
That is simply a piece of paper confirming that the doctor has spent time to discuss with you the risks, options and benefits to proceeding forward with your proposed surgery.
There are also documents concerning the release of your medical records to your insurance company for payment purposes.
You sign some other remaining documents without bothering to read them.
You rush out the door to run your next errand.
During the course of surgery, something happens.
Something bad happens.
You suffer significant injury.
You wake up in the intensive care unit.
You are told you will need corrective surgery in a few days.
You are told he will be in the hospital for at least two more weeks.
A nurse tells you “Thank God you're alive. The doctor didn't know if you were going to make it during surgery.”
Not very reassuring.
Over the next few months you begin to get the sense that your surgeon screwed up.
You think there was some type of medical error or medical mistake made during surgery to account for all of the injuries you suffered during surgery.
You decide to speak to medical malpractice lawyer to see if you might have a viable case.
The attorney obtains all of your medical records and calls you up one day.
“I want to know if you read the documents that the doctor and his nurse gave you to sign after your office visit?” asks the lawyer.
“Not really,” you answer.
“Well, there's one document here that says you agreed to waive your right to bring a lawsuit against the doctor and to waive the doctor's liability if you suffered any type of injury,” the attorney says with astonishment.
“Did you know you were giving away your rights to bring a lawsuit against this doctor if something bad happened?” asks the incredulous lawyer.
“No I didn't.”
If a doctor forces a patient to sign a waiver of liability in order for him to perform surgery and the patient suffers injury during the surgery, can the patient still bring a lawsuit claiming that the doctor violated the basic standards of medical care?
You should know that in New York, a professional such as a doctor cannot turn to his patient and force the patient to give up his right to bring a lawsuit if the doctor was careless or negligent. That would be against public policy.