Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (5)2 Feb 97  PDF Version

   Quick Summary: Having a nurse get the patient to sign a consent form for surgery under the direction of a named physician "et al." is invalid without an explanation that "et al." means some other physician might be the one actually doing the procedure.

   The patient’s informed consent is required before surgery. The patient has the right to know the identity of the physician who will actually do the procedure. The patient can refuse treatment if the patient objects to the physician delegating the procedure to another physician or physicians.

   Explaining the language of the surgical consent form to the patient is the physician’s responsibility. SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA, 1996.

   Courts have for centuries upheld the rule that patients can sue physicians for surgical procedures done without the patient’s informed consent.

   The Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled recently that a patient can sue a physician who fails to explain to the patient what is going on and passes off to a nurse the task of getting the patient’s signature on a confusing or ambiguous surgical consent form which the patient does not understand. Grabowski vs. Quigley, 684 A. 2d 610 (Pa. Super., 1996).