Brief Fact Summary. Fischer (Defendant), a radiologist, decided to inject a contrast medium into Brook’s (Plaintiff) calves, an unusual place to do so, because of prior experience and literature he had read.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When performing an unusual procedure on a patient, a doctor does not carry out an experiment if he has a reasonable basis for doing so.
This is because medicine is recognized as an inexact science from the practice of which serious complications can arise that cannot, without proof of some negligent act, be charged to the physician.View Full Point of Law
Issue. When performing an unusual procedure on a patient, does a doctor carry out an experiment if he has a reasonable basis for doing so?
Held. (Hunter, J.)Â No.Â When performing an unusual procedure on a patient, a doctor does not carry out an experiment if he has a reasonable basis for doing so.Â Matters of judgment should not be confused with experimentation.Â Unusual situations sometimes present themselves in the everyday practice of medicine and require therapeutic innovation.Â If performed on reasonable grounds, such innovation is not the same as experimentation.Â In this case, Defendant chose not to inject patient in the usual location due to literature he had read.Â He based his decision on legitimate information, therefore, this was not an experiment.Â And so, the trial court in this case was right in excluding Plaintiff’s instructions.Â The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in all respects.
Discussion. In general, performing experimental procedures on patients outside the clinical trial situation is forbidden.Â It is relatively easy to discern what is experimental and what is not because approval is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for drugs and medical devices.Â Other treatment types can be more difficult to classify.