Informed Consent: Disclosure of Risk Does Not Mean Patient Consents to Negligence, Court Rules

June 14, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​A Pennsylvania court of appeals held that a patient's awareness of the risks and complications of a laparoscopic hysterectomy and informed consent to the surgery did not imply that that the patient consented to negligent performance of the surgery. In so ruling, the court vacated a jury verdict in favor of a defendant surgeon and granted the plaintiff a new trial. A jury had exonerated the surgeon from liability for injuring the patient's bowel while making an abdominal incision at the start of the procedure.

The patient sued an obstetric and gynecologic surgeon, his professional practice, and the hospital where she underwent an open laparoscopic hysterectomy, alleging the physician was negligent in the performance of her surgery. While making an abdominal incision to create a pneumoperitoneum, the physician smelled fecal matter, leading him to suspect that he had injured the colon. He abandoned the hysterectomy and summoned a general surgeon who repaired the half-severed bowel by performing...

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