You walk into a doctor’s office and they hand you a clipboard and pen. Then, they ask you to fill out the forms. At the end, you usually find a form called a Consent Form that basically advises you that you are consenting to a whole bunch of stuff when you receive treatment from the doctor.
The big question is whether that consent is binding on you if you sign it. Well, the Virginia Supreme Court, in a dental malpractice case, now tells us that it’s not. You are not consenting to malpractice. The case is styled Fiorucci v. Chinn (McClanahan) No. 131869, Oct. 31, 2014; It originated in the Alexandria Circuit.Court.
The facts of the case showed that during trial, the defendant dentist (through his attorney) sought to introduce the risk of surgery discussion that took place before the dental procedure .
During the trial, the circuit court judge ruled that the risk of surgery discussions between dentist and his patient were not relevant. The Judge would not allow that evidence to be presented to the jury.
The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court judge in ruling that Plaintiff’s awareness of the risks of the extractions was not a defense against his claim that defendant deviated from the standard of care in misdiagnosing the condition of plaintiff’s wisdom teeth or negligently performing the surgery. Evidence of the informed consent discussions was neither relevant nor material to the issue of the standard of care.
The case now affirms that just because we sign that form doesn’t mean that we are saying that we are ok with negligence. Something to think about the next time that they slide that clipboard to you through that little window.
And for our pic o’ day… a bit of medicine: