Informed Consent and Patient’s Right to Choose

This posting will identify and analyze controversial patient treatments including an explanation why other treatments are more controversial than others. In the construct of the informed consent, it is important to differentiate between patient’s preferences for specific treatment and patient’s preferences for specific health states.  Issues such as patient’s right to choose treatment or refuse treatment is paramount in bioethics and legally protected by the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Pozgar, 2007). In this context, the patient has the legal right to refuse treatment, refuse to take medication, and refuse invasive intervention regardless of the benefit they may get from them.  Although some patients may refuse treatment, patients still have the legal right to know the truth, the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the recommended procedures concomitantly.  In a perfect world, one would assume that most patients would argue for the best treatment possible for them. There are those, however, who would argue against a major surgery such as coronary by-pass surgery despite evidence that the procedure would increase their survivability and enhanced their quality of life (Bowling and Ebrahim, 2001).

A knowledge base of patient’s understanding and perceptions of the risk and benefits is essential for analysis of their preferences (Bowling and Ebrahim, 2001). An informed consent will more than likely suffice the requirements for physician’s to disclose the risks and benefits and the alternatives of a procedure.  Because it is possible that a patient after treatment can claim that he or she has no advance knowledge of the nature of the procedure, taking time to explore all of the patient’s objectives, a wise decision (Pozgar, 2007).

Taken from Beauchamp and Childress (2009) is a classic case that occurred in 1906 but still very much relevant today (Sherman Act of 1896 is still applicable today).  In Mohr v. Williams, 98 Minn. 494; 108 N.W. 818; 1906 Minn. LEXIS 617, it was held that in the absence of consent, express or implied, the respondent (the defendant doctor; this case was being appealed) had no authority to perform a surgery on the patient’s left ear without either express or written authority. Therefore, it was wrongfully and unlawfully done, and in law, it constituted assault and battery, in which case the amount of recoverable damages amount to the extent of the injury inflicted.

Other treatment cases are more controversial than others because of special circumstances under the principle of negligence (Pozgar, 2007). In Keel v. St Elizabeth Medical Center, Ky., the plaintiff-patient filed a malpractice lawsuit stemming from the lack of informed consent when he developed thrombophlebitis at the site of the injection during CT scan. However, the hospital argued that informed consent like negligence must be measured against the standard of practice among the members of the medical profession.  The court ruled in favor of the defendant (Pozgar, 2007).

Cesar Aquino