There are some types of medical malpractice claims that center on a doctor’s failure to fully inform you about a proposed medical treatment. Lack of informed consent is predicated on the principle that you as a patient have the right to decide what will be done to your body.
Our Fort Myers medical malpractice attorneys know that absent appropriate information, the patient will be unable to make a good, educated decision about whether to proceed with the treatment plan. This includes information about your medical condition, qualifications of the doctor, potential risks involved with the proposed procedure, any alternative treatments and risks, the projected success and expected recovery time. If you don’t have accurate or adequate information and you are harmed during the procedure, there is a good chance you have a basis for a medical malpractice claim. Plaintiffs need to show if they had been given adequate information, they would not have consented to treatment, and the outcome likely would have been different.
A recent example of such a scenario played out in the Delaware Supreme Court in the case of Shapria et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc. In this case, the patient suffered a fall from a ladder that resulted in numerous non-displaced rib fractures, among a host of other injuries. The patient was admitted to the local hospital, where he reported experiencing severe chest pain, despite being given oral pain medication.
His doctor requested a consult with a thoracic surgeon who was affiliated with the hospital, which performed a treatment called the “On-Q procedure.” The intent of the treatment is to treat pain resulting from rib fractures by inserting a catheter under the patient’s skin and over the ribs using a metal device. Then, a liquid analgesic goes directly into the catheter and surrounding tissue, relieving the pain.
The surgeon explained the procedure to the patient, who agreed to under go it.
But here’s what the patient didn’t know: First of all, this treatment is not approved by the Food & Drug Administration, meaning it’s an “off-label” treatment. It’s not illegal, but patients need to be advised of this risk. What the patient also didn’t know was this doctor had an independent interest in the procedure, as he was contracted by the manufacturer as a speaker member. He gave presentations to other doctors regarding the issue, and promoted it across the country. He was paid by the manufacturer to do so. He even created the promotional pamphlet for it.
Around the time this doctor became affiliated with this hospital, the number of patients receiving this treatment spiked.
This patient was one of those. The day after the catheter was inserted, the patient accidentally removed it, and it had to be reinserted. One of the two devices became displaced and punctured several of the patient’s internal organs. As a result, the patient had to undergo several additional surgeries and had an extended stay in the hospital.
The patient sued on the grounds the doctor negligently failed to obtain informed consent and also negligently performed the procedure. He also sued the hospital.
Following an eight-day trial, a jury returned a verdict finding both defendants liable and awarding the plaintiff $3.75 million in damages, plus another $650,000 to his wife for loss of consortium. The state supreme court affirmed.
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Fort Myers, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Shapria et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc. , Aug. 7, 2014, Delaware Supreme Court
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