AHC Discusses Informed-Consent Legislation

By Elizabeth Moore — News & Updates

Physicians performing extensive procedures could soon have power over every aspect of their patients’ consent – from start to finish.

A recent AMA article by Andis Robeznieks discusses a current Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling (a 4-3 decision), which allows surgeons “to provide their patients with information about the alternatives, risks, and benefits of a particular procedure in order to obtain informed consent”. This could harbor distressing consequences for both doctors and patients, including the delay of necessary medical access and other services to seriously ill patients.

The Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE), enacted in 2001, mandates that “a patient’s informed consent be obtained before a medical procedure”, and was the center of controversy surrounding a brain tumor suffered by Megan Shinal, in which an initial surgery performed by a Dr. Steven A. Toms only removed a portion of it, fearing an entire removal would result in a full regrowth. This decision ultimately lead to an increase in size and following complications like severe headaches suffered by Shinal. Six years later, a surgery performed under informed-consent went underway, where Shinal’s carotid artery was pierced, leading to “hemorrhage, stroke, brain injury and partial blindness”.

PAMED, or the Pennsylvania Medical Society, discussed “dismissed arguments” that “predated a 2002 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case that held that the duty to obtain informed consent rests with the physician performing a procedure and not the hospital where it will be performed”, leading to serious consequences for PA physicians. Angela Boateng, the PAMEd General Council, weighed in, saying “It was not uncommon for other qualified staff to assist a physician in providing the requisite information or answering follow-up questions a patient may have had. The Medical Practice Act and other professional regulations permitted this level of assistance….. The patient’s ability to follow up with the physician or his qualified staff was usually aimed at promoting a patient’s understanding of the treatment or procedure to be completed. The court’s decision, however, has put an end to this practice.”

We at the American Health Council encourage its affiliates to discuss further efforts which can be taken in order to prevent further incidents like these, resulting in dire consequences affecting doctors and patients alike.

About the American Health Council:

The American Health Council is the nation’s only organization with a constituency representative of all sectors of the healthcare industry. From the coasts to the heartland, the American Health Council has drawn Affiliates from major metropolitan hubs and small communities. These Affiliates span generations and have reached different stages of their careers — from recent graduates to retirees. More information about the American Health Council and its mission can be found at: http://americanhealthcouncil.org.

Additionally, the American Health Council strives to provide recognition and support for those individuals and institutions making the difference in patients’ lives day in and day out. Throughout 2017, the AHC is honoring “America’s Best Doctors and Nurses,” as well as the nation’s best medical universities and hospitals. The American Health Council’s “Best in Medicine” and “Best in Nursing” awards programs honor the individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to medicine and nursing, as well as the training and education of physicians and nurses. The most current selections for these honors may be viewed here: http://bestinmedicine.org and http://bestinnursing.org.