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Informed Consent: Physician Inexperience is a Material Risk for Patients

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Abstract:

This paper examines the case for an expanded interpretation of the concept of “material risk” such that it necessitates voluntary disclosure of physician inexperience with a specific medical procedure. Informed consent law in the United States, Canada, and most commonwealth jurisdictions has become a driver of standards of risk disclosure by physicians during the informed consent process. The legal standard of risk disclosure expected of a physician hinges on the interpretation of the entity called “material risk.” Any impairment of the physician related to drug usage, disease, or alcohol which compounds the risk of a procedure is very likely to be considered material by a patient. This paper argues that physician inexperience is a factor that a reasonable patient would attach significance to and that it should therefore be viewed as a “material risk” requiring disclosure.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-720X.2007.00170.x

Affiliations: Neurosurgeon with legal qualifications, currently undergoing doctoral studies at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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