Informed Consent: Man Sues Doctor for Amputating His Penis
Can a doctor decide to remove an organ or limb if he/she feels it will save a patient’s life? Can a doctor exceed the authority granted to him in a signed informed consent and perform a different or more invasive procedure than the operation that the patient had consented to? These issues frequently arise when an issue of informed consent is asserted in litigation. Just what can a doctor do when the operation is elective or a non-emergency?
According to the New York Daily News, Phillip Seaton, 61, and his wife Deborah are suing his doctor for amputating his penis during what was scheduled as a routine circumcision to relieve inflammation.
In the lawsuit, Seaton claims that Dr. John Patterson of Louisville did not consult him before removing his penis. He also says he never authorized the amputation, nor was he given a chance to seek a second opinion. An attorney defending the doctor against the claims, has alleged that Dr. Patterson had to remove Seaton’s penis after discovering cancer during the surgery.
The medical malpractice lawsuit contends that even if Patterson did find cancer during the procedure, it was a non-emergency situation. He claims that he had the right to know and the right to decide how he wanted to treat this condition and that amputation was not necessary at that time, that other options existed and that Seaton had the right to decide! Allegedly, Seaton could have been given a chance to consider other options or get a second opinion before such drastic measures were taken. When a doctor exceeds the consent granted by the patient or does a procedure that was not agreed upon this raises issues of a lack of informed consent and a medical battery.
A medical battery is an unlawful touching of a patient. Where a doctor performs surgery on a patient that was not authorized, as in this case, a claim for punitive damages can be asserted to not only compensate the patient but to punish the doctor for the unlawful touching of the patient. When a surgery is done beyond the limits of the consent and where there was no danger of the patient dying if the procedure was abandoned a claim for informed consent and medical battery may be asserted.
The law protects a patient’s right to make his or her own medical decisions. The right to be informed and the right to decide are at the core of all medical decisions. When a doctor makes decisions that are not agreed upon and not based upon informed consent he or she is violating our trust that we place in the physician. Ohio law not only requires that every patient be informed of the material risks, alternatives and benefits of the procedure but also limits the doctor from performing an unauthorized surgery.
As a medical malpractice attorney, I understand the issues of informed consent and medical battery. We should never have our health compromised or a surgical procedure performed unless there was no other reasonable option once a surgery commences. If elective and the surgery could be terminated, the doctor may not exceed the consent given otherwise he has committed an unlawful touching or battery.
We will be posting additional cases on our web site on this very important topic of the Right to Know and the Right to Decide. Visit us at https://www.mishkindlaw.com.
As reported by MSNBC.com, the doctor claims that prior to the procedure, Seaton gave him permission to perform any medical procedure necessary during the circumcision.
Informed consent is typically required before a medical procedure or treatment. Informed consent is the idea that patients have the right to be notified of the risks, consequences and alternatives of any surgery or procedure. With few exceptions, a doctor has to get the consent of a patient for non-emergency treatment. As a result, jurors in this trial are being asked to decide if Patterson’s decision was “a necessary part of the surgery” and if the doctor “had no reasonable option” other than removing the cancer and the penis.
According to the Associated Press, this lawsuit is similar to one in which an Indianapolis man claimed his penis and left testicle were removed without his consent during surgery for an infection in 1997. The Indianapolis man was awarded more than $2.3 million in damages.