In Pennsylvania, before performing surgery, the surgeon must obtain the patient’s informed consent to the procedure. The patient’s consent must be “informed,” in other words, important information must be explained to the patient. This includes the risks, benefits, alternatives, and identity of the surgeon performing the procedure. A patient cannot make an informed decision unless the physician explains the risks that a reasonably prudent patient would need to know. This is called “informed consent.”
The surgeon’s duty cannot be delegated
The surgeon performing the procedure has a non-delegable duty to personally obtain the patient’s informed consent. This means that the physician who is responsible for performing the surgery cannot delegate to anyone else their duty to provide sufficient information to the patient and obtain their informed consent to proceed. The physician must personally satisfy this obligation through direct communication with the patient.
Cardia catheterization procedure – no informed consent
In this case, the patient presented to the emergency department with a chief complaint of chest pain. The patient was admitted to the hospital for observation and further evaluation and treatment due to his cardiac risk factors. The patient was scheduled for a cardiac catheterization (also known as a cardiac cath, heart cath, or coronary angiogram), which is a procedure that allows the doctor to see how well the blood vessels supply the heart and to look for the extent of any coronary artery disease.
The evening before the procedure, a cardiologist, who does not perform cardiac catheterizations, met with the patient, and explained the procedure, as well as the risks and alternatives. The cardiologist did not inform the patient who would be performing the procedure. The following morning a different cardiologist entered the cardiac catheterization lab, where the patient had been brought for the procedure. This was the first time the cardiac surgeon, who would be performing the procedure, met the patient. There were no discussions related to informed consent.
Perforated artery leads to patient’s death
During the performance of the procedure, the surgeon perforated the right coronary artery which caused massive bleeding. Ultimately, the patient died.
Settlement at mediation brings closure
This litigation was resolved at mediation held in Lancaster, PA, and brought closure to the family of the patient who died unexpectedly during a routine procedure.
If you or a loved one has been harmed or died because of the medical negligence of a health care provider, contact Jaime Jackson Law.