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 Post subject: Dramatic decision in Georgia impact informed consent laws
PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:55 am 

Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 1:06 am
Posts: 621
This case precedent may apply to all 50 states because common law (which is not a tort) is the same everywhere. It may be a critical precedent in some cases. Many thanks to the contributor of this information.


This past fall, the Georgia Court of Appeals handed down a decision that appears to have dramatically changed the law of informed consent in Georgia. See Ketchup v. Howard, 2000 WL 174538 (Ga. Ct. App. Nov. 29, 2000). The court announced a "common law" doctrine of informed consent that requires medical professionals to inform patients of all known material risks of any proposed treatment or procedure, and to inform patients of available treatment alternatives. In the process, the court undid twenty-five years of legal precedent.

In 1988, the General Assembly enacted a doctrine of informed consent. See O.C.G.A. ? 31-9-6.1. This Act requires that six specific categories of information be disclosed by medical care providers to their patients. However, the statute only requires detailed disclosure of the risks and alternatives before a patient undergoes certain specified surgical or diagnostic procedures, namely, the following: a surgical procedure under general, spinal, or major regional anesthesia; a diagnostic amniocentesis; or any diagnostic procedure that involves the intravenous or intraductal injection of a contrast material.

The court's decision moves Georgia's established doctrine from an objective rule to a more obscure subjective standard. Now, a "medical professional" (which is left undefined by the court) must disclose "all material risks generally recognized and accepted by reasonably prudent physicians which, if disclosed to a reasonably prudent person in the patient's position, could reasonably be expected to cause that person to decline the proposed treatment or procedure." Patients must also be informed of available alternatives to the proposed procedure or treatment. As a result, while expert testimony would be required to establish that a particular risk was either known or should have been known, it will likely be up to a jury to decide whether an ordinary, reasonable and prudent person in the patient's position would have rejected a proposed treatment or procedure.

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