Iowa Supreme Court Rules Surgeon’s Experience May Be Relevant To Lack Of Informed Consent Claim

The Supreme Court of Iowa (“Iowa Supreme Court”) held in its opinion filed on June 15, 2018 that “[t]he duty to disclose under Iowa’s informed-consent law turns on whether a reasonable person in the patient’s position would consider the information at issue to be material to the decision of whether to undergo the proposed treatment … our practice has been to apply the objective reasonable-patient standard to the undisclosed information at issue in a particular case to determine if the failure to disclose that information breached the physician’s duty … we conclude the district court erred when it found, as a matter of law, there is no duty to disclose personal characteristics, such as experience and training, under Iowa law.”

The Iowa Supreme Court stated that the duty on physicians to disclose personal information is imposed only when that personal information is material to the decision of a reasonable person in the patient’s position to or not to undergo the proposed treatment. The Iowa Supreme Court stated, “A claim for informed consent does not depend on if the physician performed the procedure negligently; rather, it turns on whether the physician failed to obtain consent by failing to disclose material information. Thus, evidence of a physician’s training and experience could be relevant because it could indicate the physician failed to disclose material information.”

The Iowa Supreme Court held: “a physician’s experience or training with the proposed treatment can be information material to the decision of a reasonable person in the patient’s position to or not to undergo the proposed treatment. Whether such information is material will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and will be for the jury to decide, unless as a matter of law no reasonable person in the patient’s position would find such information material … the question of whether certain information is material is best left to the jury in most cases.”

The Iowa Supreme Court stated that in the case it was deciding, “The record reveals a Bentall heart procedure is a very complicated procedure. The experts characterized a Bentall heart procedure as being harder to perform than a heart transplant. It is reasonable that anyone undergoing such a procedure would want to know his or her physician’s experience and training, or lack thereof, before consenting to such a procedure by that physician. Under these circumstances, we cannot conclude as a matter of law that no reasonable person in [the plaintiff’s] position would find such information immaterial to his or her decision to have the surgery before consulting another physician.” In the present case, the plaintiff’s heart surgeon did not have any experience or training in performing the particular Bentall procedure used on the plaintiff.

Source Andersen v. Khanna, No. 14–1682.

If you believe that you suffered harm as a result of a medical provider’s failure to obtain your informed consent for medical treatment in Iowa or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Iowa or in your state who may investigate your lack of informed consent claim for you and represent you in an informed consent case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 16th, 2018 at 5:22 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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