surgery waiver

Nighty

Member
Russian
Hi everybody! I'm wondering if you could help me.
I'm translating the movie "The Open Road" with Jeff Bridges and Justin Timberlake. Justin's mother is in hospital, needs a surgery and, as I get it, refuses to have the operation until her ex-husband comes to see her. What I don't get is his grandad's words:

"They've got her on antibiotics and they have to wait a few days, but she won't agree to sign the surgery waiver. If she falls unconscious, they can do it without her consent. Otherwise we'll need a court order and I don't know if we can get one'.

Why it is a "waiver"? Doesn't "waiver" mean "refusal"? I mean, if she don't agree to sign the surgery waiver then she wants to do the operation. And you would think that the grandad should say "she won't agree to sign the consent for surgery" Or I got it all wrong?
 
  • grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    She waives certain rights. A unrequested medical intervention is an assault under the law of some countries. She waives her right to prosecute the medical staff for this or other charges.
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    Addendum
    Another issue is that medical insurance is an important factor in countries without a national health service. There may be insurance limitations on the patient's policy. Certain facts have to be declared. Here is an example of a waiver form

    http://www.themat.com/forms/Medicalwaivers.pdf
    Participant's Waiver and Release From Liability Form
    This form provides the club administration a copy of a standard participant's waiver and release from liability form.
    It is mandatory that club administrators have this form signed in addition to the form attached to the membership
    card. Failure to obtain a waiver and release on members will result in a loss of insurance coverage.
     
    I'm pretty sure that what the character is referring to is a surgical informed consent form. Under US law, competent patients must be informed of the risks, benefits and alternatives to any procedure they are about to undergo and consent to have the procedure. Consent is given by signing a consent form, which is how medical professionals (and many lay people) refer to the document in question. The word "waiver" is often used among lay people, but it is inaccurate.*

    In the situation at hand, Mr Timberlake's grandmother is refusing to sign the consent form, so her surgeon cannot operate on her. If she becomes unconscious, she would no longer be competent to make decisions about her care, so her next of kin would make the decision and, presumably, consent to surgery.

    Sorry for the long explanation, but perhaps understanding the situation in full will make translation easier.

    *"Waiver" is inaccurate because its use is based on the idea that, by signing the form, the patient waives his right to sue for malpractice. This is incorrect: In the US, anyone can sue for anything (more or less), and you cannot waive your right to sue. While having signed a consent form would make it difficult to win a lawsuit based on a claim of not having been informed of the risks of a procedure, the patient is not prevented from suing, nor is he waiving any other rights.
     
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    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm pretty sure that what the character is referring to is a surgical informed consent form.
    ...

    While having signed a consent form would make it difficult to win a lawsuit based on a claim of not having been informed of the risks of a procedure, the patient is not prevented from suing, nor is he waiving any other rights.
    I won't disagree with any of this given that, as far as I know, the action of the movie takes place in the USA and I am British.

    However a Google search reveals the following:
    Principle 4. Providers of health care (including surgical) services to transsexuals have a right to charge reasonable fees for their services, to be paid in advance, and to require a waiver of all tort liability except negligence.

    This is a very specific case but at least it gives one counter-example.

    Also I wonder if patients in the US are required to sign an insurance waiver form before surgery?
     
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    Also I wonder if patients in the US are required to sign an insurance waiver form before surgery?
    I fear that we are heading far off topic, but the answer is a qualified no. In the case of elective surgery, a patient who is uninsured or has inadequate insurance may be required to pay in advance or sign a payment plan of some kind. This would also apply to procedures that are cosmetic or otherwise not covered by most health insurance plans. Since most people do have insurance, and since most procedures - and virtually all non-elective procedures - are covered by insurance, this would be true only in a minority of situations.

    The context of the original post, however, makes it clear that we are dealing with a consent form, which has nothing to do with insurance or financial liability.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Anyone facing surgery is required to sign a consent form, as has been stated.
    The consent form includes a declaration that the patient has been informed about the proposed procedure, is aware of a long list of possible complications, and agrees that the surgeon may undertake any additional procedures deemed necessary should any of these complications arise.

    In signing the form, I am waiving any rights I might otherwise have to take action against the surgeon for not informing me of the risks of the operation or for performing some "additional procedures which may become necessary during my treatment."
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    ...
    In signing the form, I am waiving any rights I might otherwise have to take action against the surgeon for not informing me of the risks of the operation or for performing some "additional procedures which may become necessary during my treatment."
    So if we return to the original text
    she won't agree to sign the surgery waiver. If she falls unconscious...
    We see that she may (or may not) have completed the consent form but it is the waiver that she is refusing to sign.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    So if we return to the original text We see that she may (or may not) have completed the consent form but it is the waiver that she is refusing to sign.
    I don't think we can assume that. From post #1:
    ... but she won't agree to sign the surgery waiver. If she falls unconscious, they can do it without her consent. Otherwise we'll need a court order and I don't know if we can get one'.
    This only makes sense if the writer is equating waiver with consent form.
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can't see your logic(s) and you can't see mine. Here is my last shot and then I give up.

    ...In signing the form, I am waiving any rights...
    i.e. In signing I agree to the waiver

    However

    I refuse to sign in agreement with the waiver

    ergo

    I refuse to sign the waiver.

    She refuses to sign on the physical piece of paper (the consent form) but the concept that she is refusing to endorse is the waiver.
     
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