In certain situations, a medical malpractice case will raise questions concerning the injured patient's understanding of the risks involved with the surgical procedure or course of treatment that is being prescribed to him or her.
In Pennsylvania and in most other jurisdictions, a physician must obtain the patient's informed consent before he or she can perform any type of surgery or certain other procedures that are invasive or carry a certain amount of risk. Not only must the patient be given a full description of the procedure, but all of the risks and alternatives should be explained as well.
If a physician performs a procedure without obtaining a patient's informed consent while he or she is competent and lucid, the physician is liable for all injuries caused by the procedure. This is true especially if the information not provided would have played a role in the patient's decision to undergo treatment.
If you believe that your medical malpractice claim involves issues of informed consent, contact the Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorneys at Biancheria & Maliver P.C.
Informed Consent Requirements In Pennsylvania
Recent legislative amendments to Pennsylvania's Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (MCARE) directly address the question of informed consent: Under what circumstances must a physician give a patient specific information about the risks inherent in a given procedure?
Although as a practical matter a doctor should always disclose the known risks of any proposed course of treatment, there are five particular situations under which MCARE requires the patient's informed consent:
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- Blood transfusions
- The insertion of any device under the skin
- Any experimental medication or medical device
Additionally, MCARE provides that a doctor violates the duty to obtain the patient's informed consent if the doctor mischaracterizes his or her credentials or experience with respect to the proposed treatment or surgical procedure.