Informed consent, yes. But whose?

  • Posted on: April 18, 2020

Healthcare providers know that taking an informed consent before an intervention or procedure is a legal necessity. However, problems often arise when there is confusion about whose consent is to be obtained – the patient or his / her family / attendants?

Jharna was diagnosed with fibroids in uterus and underwent hysterectomy procedure performed by Dr. Bhushan. Unfortunately she developed Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), a known post-operative complication.

She developed urinary leak as a result of VVF, and hence, visited the doctor on several occasions who inserted a catheter, but to no avail. Jharna approached another hospital where she received treatment for about a month.

Dr. Bhushan was sued by the patient on two counts. The first allegation was that he did not perform the hysterectomy procedure properly which lead to the development of VVF. The second allegation was that patient’s consent was not taken before performing the procedure.

An expert committee was formed to adjudicate the case, who observed that the doctor had performed hysterectomy as per standard protocol.

The Commission, having perused medical records, also concurred with the expert committee’s finding that there was no negligence on part of Dr. Bhushan.

The Commission also observed that Dr. Bhushan had taken an informed consent from patient’s husband. Unfortunately, the husband did not inform the doctor to take his wife’s consent, which was not a ground to hold Dr. Bhushan negligent.

Dr. Bhushan may have breathed a sigh of relief but this case offers an important learning – take consent of an oriented patient and also of his / her family / attendants.

Source: Order pronounced by West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 31st December, 2019.