Articles Posted in Lack of Informed Consent

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Many people are aware that their doctors must get their informed consent before proceeding with any course of medical treatment. The logic behind the requirement is clear. Patients have the right to understand the options in front of them, the risks of a course of action, and other important information before allowing a medical professional to take action. After all it is the patient and their family that will personally suffer the consequences of all medical decisions.

However, new research out of the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests that all too often doctors fail to share proper information and correct patient misinterpretations in informed consent discussions.

The research focused on informed consent conversations for patients that are asked to participate in clinical trials. The study involved taping many conversations between oncologists and cancer patients regarding informed consent. Both the professional and patient then filled out questionnaires about the discussion and their knowledge of what took place. The results reveal some problems.

Researchers found that the discussion of the patient’s prognosis was often lacking. Also, alternative care plans were infrequently mentioned, and patients appeared to misinterpret the options in front of them. Patients also left the discussion with little information about available supportive care choices.
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A new lawsuit was filed yesterday after an egregious medical mistake put a newborn son under the knife against the express wishes of the baby’s mother. According the to Miami Herald, Vera Delgado was shocked and disgusted when she learned that her 8 day old son was circumcised without her consent and against her express wishes told to doctors.

Vera gave birth to her son, Mario, in late July. Mario had medical problems in his first few days alive, so doctors kept him in the intensive care unit to help fight an infection. Previously, Vera had specifically refused to sign a consent form for circumcision, telling doctors that she did not want Mario to have the procedure. No male in her family had had the operation in generations.

However, a few days after his death, Vera walked into his room and noticed a vial lying next to the baby’s bed. She questioned a nurse about it who told her it that was Tylenol to help Mario with the pain caused by his circumcision.

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A Rhode Island jury recently awarded slightly less than $1 million to a woman plagued by the consequences of negligent medical treatment. The Providence Journal reported on the decision reached last week which returned a medical malpractice verdict against podiatric surgeon James McCormick.

The victim, Christ B. Durant, receive an operation on her big toe at Dr. McCormick’s facility in June 2005. The doctor’s negligence during the operation had severe consequences for Ms. Durant, resulting in intense pain and the need for additional surgery to correct the medical error.

Besides the errors during the procedure, the medical malpractice lawsuit also challenged Dr. McCormick’s failure to obtain informed consent on Ms. Durant before performing the operation. In medical situations, doctors are typically required to obtain the consent of their patients before performing certain procedures. However, to protect patients’ rights, doctors are further required to ensure that the consent that obtained is “informed.” Informed consent can only be given when the doctor properly makes the patient aware of the risks and potential consequences of any procedure. That way, the patient is able to fairly weigh her options before allowing the doctor to proceed.

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A father has filed a $19 million medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital and two doctors, claiming that he never consented to his son’s surgery. This surgery ended with his sixth month old son having permanent brain damage. Originally, the father was told that it was a minor small surgery shortly after his son was transferred to a new hospital. He was only warned that a small infection could be a complication, and this would be treated with antibiotics. However, the victim’s father still said he refused consent. Despite this answer, the doctors still operated on the young boy, leaving him brain damaged.

Hospital officials are stating that the father gave verbal consent, yet investigators have not found any hospital documentation to support this assertion. Furthermore, the baby was scheduled for morning surgery, yet doctors postponed it until later in the afternoon citing an inability to obtain consent. When the father refused, the doctor told him to return to the hospital for further discussion. Still the father is claiming that he refused surgery because he was nervous about the procedure’s use of anesthesia. He also was not offered a Spanish interpreter, despite the fact that he only speaks Spanish. Following the surgery, the baby had become dependent on a ventilator and feeding tube. He had entered the hospital on a nasal breathing tube. The father believes that this is due to his son’s reaction to anesthesia. His son’s nursing care now costs costs $1,100 a month. To read more about the consent lawsuit, please click the link.

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A man alleges a hospital committed medical malpractice when performing surgery on his larynx. He is now suing them for allegedly causing him permanent damage. His injuries include vocal chord paralysis, difficulty breathing, and damage to the laryngeal nerve as a result of a posterior cervical fusion operation. The causes of action in his complaint against the hospital and doctors who performed his surgery are lack of informed consent and professional negligence.

Read more about the medical malpractice suit here.

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A 33 year old woman recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the University of Chicago Medical Center alleging she contracted HIV and Hepatitis C after receiving a kidney transplant. According to the lawsuit, the woman claims U of C failed to warn her that her donor was a gay man with multiple sexual partners. Lawyers for the transplant patient claim the hospital was negligent, because it knew the donor engaged in homosexual activity, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention label “high risk behavior.” Had she been informed of the high risks associated with a gay donor, the patient states she would not have received the transplant. Since the negligent transplant, the woman has rejected the new kidney and has stopped working because of her illness. Three other patients who received organs from the same donor have also tested positive for HIV. To read the full story, click here.

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A study published last week in the British Medical Journal finds that half of US doctors prescribe placebos to their patients, instead of drugs necessary for their treatment. These placebos, the survey explains, are sometimes vitamins or drugs that will not help the patients’ conditions. Moreover, the survey finds that many of the physicians are engaging in these practices without the knowledge of their patients, contravening American Medical Association recommendations, which advocate that patients be given full knowledge of treatments that they are given, and potentially constituting medical malpractice.

Patients have the right to determine what they want they want done to their bodies. Before administering treatment or performing a medical procedure, a physician is required to provide his or her patient with adequate information about the treatment or procedure and the risks and benefits associated with it in order for the patient to give his or her informed consent. Failing to provide this information results in a lack of informed consent. If this failure causes the patient to suffer a personal injury or death, the doctor can be found liable for medical malpractice.

For the full story, click here.

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A Chicago surgeon is being sued after implanting a device which he invented in a patient, allegedly without consent. The device, a Myxo ETlogix annuloplasty ring, was implanted in the patient in April 2006 by Dr. Patrick McCarthy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to fix the patient’s leaky heart valve. Dr. McCarthy developed the heart device and receives royalties for its sale, which are donated to a charity. In July, a research paper by Dr. McCarthy was published in a medical journal. The article was based on a study that included the patient and focused on the initial experience with the device. Dr. McCarthy stated that the patient had consented to participate in the study. The patient said that she would not have consented to the use of an experimental device. The doctor denies that the device was experimental but failed to inform the patient that he had invented the ring before proceeding with the implantation. According to medical ethics experts, a patient should be informed if a surgeon will receive royalties on a device that he or she may use in surgery and a patient must agree to take part in medical research, by signing an informed consent form his or her to their involvement in the study.

The patient experienced inflammation following the implantation, was required to undergo a second surgery to remove the device, and is now confronted with the possibility of needing a heart transplant. She filed a lawsuit in Cook County this April against McCarthy, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Edwards Lifesciences, the device’s manufacturer.

The FDA has received 10 reports on adverse events related to the Myxo ETlogix ring and an investigation is currently underway to determine whether the agency received proper notice about the device.