Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors often don't disclose all possible risks to patients before treatment

Date:
August 8, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Most informed consent disputes involve disagreements about who said what and when, not stand-offs over whether a particular risk ought to have been disclosed. But doctors may "routinely underestimate the importance of a small set of risks that vex patients" according to international experts.

Most informed consent disputes involve disagreements about who said what and when, not stand-offs over whether a particular risk ought to have been disclosed. But doctors may "routinely underestimate the importance of a small set of risks that vex patients" according to international experts writing in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Increasingly, doctors are expected to advise and empower patients to make rational choices by sharing information that may affect treatment decisions, including risks of adverse outcomes. However, authors from Australia and the US led by David Studdert from the University of Melbourne argue that doctors, especially surgeons, are often unsure which clinical risks they should disclose and discuss with patients before treatment.

To understand more about the clinical circumstances in which disputes arise between doctors and patients in this area, the authors analyzed 481 malpractice claims and patient complaints from Australia involving allegations of deficiencies in the process of obtaining informed consent.

The authors found that 45 (9%) of the cases studied were disputed duty cases -- that is, they involved head-to-head disagreements over whether a particular risk ought to have been disclosed before treatment. Two-thirds of these disputed duty cases involved surgical procedures, and the majority (38/45) of them related to five specific outcomes that had quality of life implications for patients, including chronic pain and the need for re-operation.

The authors found that the most common justifications doctors gave for not telling patients about particular risks before treatment were that they considered such risks too rare to warrant discussion or the specific risk was covered by a more general risk that was discussed.

However, nine in ten of the disputes studied centered on factual disagreements -- arguments over who said what, and when. The authors say: "Documenting consent discussions in the lead-up to surgical procedures is particularly important, as most informed consent claims and complaints involved factual disagreements over the disclosure of operative risks."

The authors say: "Our findings suggest that doctors may systematically underestimate the premium patients place on understanding certain risks in advance of treatment."

They conclude: "Improved understanding of these situations helps to spotlight gaps between what patients want to hear and what doctors perceive patients want -- or should want -- to hear. It may also be useful information for doctors eager to avoid medico-legal disputes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie M. Bismark, Andrew J. Gogos, Richard B. Clark, Russell L. Gruen, Atul A. Gawande, David M. Studdert. Legal Disputes over Duties to Disclose Treatment Risks to Patients: A Review of Negligence Claims and Complaints in Australia. PLoS Medicine, 2012; 9 (8): e1001283 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001283

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Doctors often don't disclose all possible risks to patients before treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808093856.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, August 8). Doctors often don't disclose all possible risks to patients before treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808093856.htm
Public Library of Science. "Doctors often don't disclose all possible risks to patients before treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120808093856.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins