Have You Heard the Latest Medical Liability Risk?
AAOS Now – January 2018
By: Michael R. Marks, MD, MBA and Daniel R. Schlatterer, DO, MS
Court rules that surgeons must personally deliver informed consent
On June 20, 2017, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a 4–3 decision that has the potential to rock the world of medical liability. The justices ruled that surgeons, in order to obtain informed consent, have the duty to provide their patients with information about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a particular procedure. Furthermore, surgeons must deliver that information personally.
Who is responsible?
In the underlying case, the patient filed a lawsuit alleging that all risks of a procedure were not fully discussed, which lead to discovery of the consent process. The Pennsylvania MCARE (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error) Act requires that physicians obtain informed consent and that certain information must be conveyed to patients to inform their consent. Utilizing Pennsylvania common law, a majority of the justices declared that the duty to obtain informed consent rests with the physician performing a procedure and not the hospital where it will be performed.