Informed Consent and 25% Risk of Paralysis
Lancet. 1989 Jul 1; 2(8653): 57-58.
A British court awarded a patient damages after she had been rendered a quadriplegic as a result of surgery to drain a cyst on her spine. Her physician had failed to inform her that there was a substantial risk of total paralysis from the surgery, or that total paralysis would result within a few months if her condition was untreated. His argument for withholding the information was to avoid excessively frightening the patient, but three neurosurgeons testified that the plaintiff should have been informed of both the risks and the benefits involved in undertaking a difficult procedure. The court determined that the patient would have agreed to the surgery if fully informed of its risks, but awarded damages for shock and depression consequent to her being rendered quadriplegic without warning. (KIE abstract)
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