Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession(5)11 Nov 97  PDF Version 

   Quick Summary: Legal liability rests with the physician for not telling the patient all the risks of the surgery and for not getting truly informed consent.

   A hospital does not have the legal responsibility for obtaining a patient’s informed consent, even if a physician gets a staff nurse to have the patient sign a surgical consent form.     SUPREME COURT OF NEBRASKA, 1997.


   The patient had three breast implant procedures with the same surgeon, at two different hospitals. She sued the physician and both hospitals for lack of informed consent, claiming she had not been warned of the possibility of atypical neurological disease before signing the surgical consent forms. The hospital where the second and third procedures were done asked to be dismissed, and was dismissed from the lawsuit.

   The Supreme Court of Nebraska carefully reviewed cases from all around the U.S. bearing on the issue. The court concluded that a hospital and its nursing staff do not have the legal responsibility to inform a patient of the risks of surgery.

   That is, if a patient sues a hospital claiming the consent form the patient signed was not truly informed consent because the patient was not informed of all of the possible risks of the procedure, the court, as in this case, must by law dismiss the hospital and its staff from the suit. Giese vs. Stice, 567 N.W. 2d 156 (Neb., 1997).