Risks and Complications Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases

With several decades of experience, James F. Mundy, Esq. is one of Pennsylvania’s most experienced malpractice lawyers and Powell Law’s leading litigator in actions involving medical mistakes, wrongful death, and product liability. Unquestionably, he has helped win some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the history of the Commonwealth in these types of legal matters.

In Pennsylvania, evidence that the patient was advised of certain risks of the procedure and nevertheless consented to proceed with the surgery is irrelevant and inadmissible, but evidence of risks and complications that are relevant in establishing the standard of care may be admissible. In reaching this conclusion, the Supreme Court reasoned that without the admission of such risk evidence where appropriate, a jury may be deprived of information that a certain injury can occur absent negligence and would thus be mistakenly encouraged to infer that a physician is a guarantor of a particular outcome.

The doctrine of informed consent requires that a physician discloses to each patient the material facts, risks, complications, and alternatives to surgery that a reasonable, prudent person would consider significant in deciding whether to undergo the surgery. Pennsylvania courts have held that evidence that a patient affirmatively consented to treatment after being informed of the risks of that treatment is generally irrelevant to a cause of action based on medical negligence.

However, Pennsylvania courts have also rejected any per se rule that “all aspects of informed consent information are always ‘irrelevant in a medical malpractice case.” Instead, there has been recognition that evidence of the risks and complications of a surgical procedure, “in the form of either testimony or a list of such risks as they appear on an informed-consent sheet” may be “relevant in establishing the standard of care.”

In fact, they have held recently that risks and complications evidence may clarify the applicable standard of care, and may be essential to provide a comprehensive, overall picture of this standard, as well as whether such standard was breached.

In sum, risks and complications evidence may assist the jury in determining whether the harm suffered was more or less likely to be the result of negligence. Therefore, it may aid the jury in determining both the standard of care and whether the physician’s conduct deviated from the standard of care.

At Powell Law, we effectively assist clients throughout each legal case, whether based on product liability, personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, or disability. For 115 years, our attorneys have litigated and resolved all types of legal matters in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our unparalleled experience and credentials in such cases make us the clear and obvious choice for representation in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE!

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