Consent taken for diagnostic procedure invalid for therapeutic procedure

  • Posted on: October 05, 2023

The patient was admitted to hospital with complains of change in voice and pain in throat; he was diagnosed with odynophagia.

The doctor performed and incisive procedure to drain pus from right side of the tonsil. The patient, unfortunately, developed laryngospasm due to negative pressure pulmonary edema. He was rushed to the ICU for critical care, however, could not survive the complications.

Patient’s family sued the hospital and doctor, alleging negligence while performing procedure.

Hospital authorities and the doctor narrated sequence of events, and pointed out that as a protocol for OPD procedure, written consent was not taken but procedure and risks were explained to the patient and his family members.

National Consumer Commission rejected this defence, and made following observations:

“From medical literature, it is proved that mortality rate for such a procedure is 11% to 40% due to laryngospasm. As such it was necessary for the doctor to inform patient and his family members about the risk and obtain informed consent”. 

“Consent was given only for a diagnostic procedure, and it cannot be considered as consent for therapeutic treatment. Consent given for a specific treatment procedure will not be valid for conducting some other treatment procedure. The fact that an unauthorized additional surgery is beneficial to the patient, or that it would save considerable time and expense to the patient, or would relieve the patient from pain and suffering in future is not a valid ground, except if it is an emergency”.

“There can be a common consent for diagnostic and operative procedures where they are contemplated. There can also be a common consent for a particular surgical procedure and an additional or further procedure that may become necessary during the course of surgery”.

The doctor and hospital were held negligent, and ordered to pay fifteen lakh rupees compensation for missing this crucial aspect of obtaining an informed consent. 

Source : Order pronounced by National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission 11th September, 2023.