The doctrine of informed consent requires a physician to warn a patient of the risks and consequences of a medical procedure. In that respect, as a matter of law, a physician's raw success rates do not constitute risk information reasonably related to a patient's medical procedure. The latter holding is limited to the disclosure of statistical data regarding past treatment and other background information that has no concrete bearing on the actual risks of a given procedure.
The plaintiff’s son was a patient who underwent a surgery for a kidney transplant. The plaintiff, the decedent’s mother, was the donor. They selected the surgeon based on his high success rate for similar surgeries. Due to complications from the surgery, the decedent’s transplanted kidney failed, and he subsequently died. Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice wrongful death action against the doctor, citing a discrepancy between the reported success rate of the surgeon and his actually success rate according to hospital records. She claims that this discrepancy tainted her consent because she was denied information. The trial court held for the plaintiff.
Did the discrepancy in the surgeon’s success rates result in a lack of informed consent by the plaintiff?
No, the court held that a doctor’s raw success rate was not information reasonably related to a patient’s medical procedure.
The court reasoned that the defendant did not have a duty to disclose his raw success rate because it focused on the probability that the mistakes he had made in the past would happen again. Unlike cases that involve a misrepresented medical procedure, here there was no relation between the surgeon’s past failed surgeries and the decedent’s surgery. The appellate court reversed and remanded the matter.