Brief Fact Summary. Arato died from pancreatic cancer, and his family (Plaintiff) sued his doctors (Defendants), claiming that the doctors had not given Arato enough information regarding his life expectancy so that he could make an informed choice regarding proposed medical treatment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A doctor has a legal duty to disclose all material information to a patient so the patient may make an informed decision regarding the suggested operation or treatment.
The Supreme Court has §stressed the paramount role of the trier of fact in informed consent cases,§ recognizing, §for example, that questions such as whether the danger posed by a failure to disclose a particular risk is remote, whether the risk was or was not commonly known, and whether circumstances unique to a given case supported a duty of disclosure were matters for the jury to decide,§.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does a doctor have a legal duty to disclose all material information to a patient so the patient may make an informed decision regarding the suggested operation or treatment?
Held. (Arabian, J.)Â Yes.Â A doctor has a legal duty to disclose all material information to a patient so the patient may make an informed decision regarding the suggested operation or treatment.Â However, it is not necessary to mandate that doctors disclose specific life expectancy probabilities to every patient.Â In addition, a doctor is obligated to not misrepresent the nature of a patient’s medical condition, but is not obligated to disclose every possibility that might affect the nonmedical rights and interests of the patient.Â A physician is not the patient’s financial adviser.Â As a matter of law, Plaintiff’s wish to be told the truth does not in itself increase the duty of disclosure imposed on doctors.Â Reversed and remanded with instructions to affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Discussion. A patient’s freedom to exercise control over his or her own body is protected by the disclosure requirement of the informed consent doctrine.Â This principle of self-determination includes all aspects of medical decision-making by the competent patient.Â However, statistical morbidity values taken from population groups offer little assurance regarding the fate of the individual patient as they are inherently unreliable.