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New York Court Explains Burdens of Proof in Informed Consent Claims

Most forms of treatment, including surgical procedures, carry some degree of risk. As such, a doctor must advise a patient of the potential adverse consequences of a treatment prior to administering it so that the plaintiff can make an intelligent and informed decision as to whether to proceed. If a doctor fails to do so, and a patient suffers harm because of the care provided, the physician may be liable for the failure to obtain the patient’s informed consent. In a recent New York opinion, the court explained the burden of proof of each party in an informed consent claim in a case in which the plaintiff alleged that his urologist committed malpractice. If you were harmed by a negligent urologist, it is advisable to meet with a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was referred to the defendant urologist due to an elevated level of prostate-specific antigen. The defendant recommended that the plaintiff undergo a biopsy of his prostate, to which the plaintiff agreed. After the procedure, the plaintiff began bleeding from his rectum. He notified the defendant, who advised the bleeding was normal.

Allegedly, the bleeding would not subside, and the plaintiff was transported to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to repair a laceration caused by the biopsy and was given a blood transfusion. He then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging medical malpractice and lack of informed consent claims. After the completion of discovery, the defendant filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Burdens of Proof in New York Informed Consent Claims

The court ultimately denied the defendant’s motion. The court explained that a plaintiff seeking to recover damages for malpractice arising out of the lack of informed consent must show that the person providing the care failed to advise the plaintiff of alternative treatments and the reasonably foreseeable risks associated with the recommended treatment and the alternatives, which a competent provider would disclose in the same situation.

The plaintiff also has to establish that a patient of reasonable prudence would not have undergone the treatment if he or she was fully informed and that the lack of informed consent caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff met his burden of proof. In response, though, the defendant failed to meet his burden, but neglecting to submit proof that the plaintiff was informed of the risks associated with the biopsy or that a reasonable patient would proceed with the biopsy if informed of the risks. Thus, the defendant’s motion was denied.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Doctors have a duty to fully advise patients of the potential harm that may arise from a treatment, and if they do not, they should be held accountable for any losses that ensue. If you were hurt by your urologist’s failure to obtain your informed consent, you should speak to a lawyer about your potential claims. The medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled at helping parties injured by urology malpractice in the pursuit of damages, and if you engage our services, we will help you seek a favorable result. You can reach us through our form online or at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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