Woolley v. Henderson

418 A.2d 1123 (Me. 1980)



Consistent with the court's view of the lack of informed consent as a form of professional malpractice, fault must be measured by reference to the reasonable medical practitioner in the same branch of medicine and not according to some variable lay standard of "materiality."


Plaintiffs, a patient and her spouse, filed suit against her physician. Plaintiff underwent back surgery and sustained injuries when the doctor operated on the wrong side of her spine. In her suit, plaintiff alleged the defendant had breached an implied contract to perform the surgery, a failure to adequately inform of the risks, and negligence. The trial court held for the defendant. On appeal, the plaintiff challenged the trial court’s voir dire of the jury.


Is the defendant liable to the plaintiff for her injuries?




The court held that there were five prospective jury members who answered prejudicially to questioning. The trial court judge allowed this questioning to be done in front of the other jurors, thereby influencing their views on the case. Further, the court held that the doctrine of informed consent was a variation of medical negligence. Thus, in determining what information is sufficient to disclose to the patient, it should analyze what a reasonable doctor in the same branch of medicine would disclose, not merely “material” information.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.