Most people in Pennsylvania know that there may be risks associated with a given medical treatment, medication or procedure but they may often need to pursue those things in order to take care of a problem bigger than the risk they deem to be present. Working with their doctors and other medical professionals in making this choice can be helpful for them. It is also important to know that simply because a risk exists, a patient should not expect to experience that particular outcome.
This reality is actually now at the heart of a decision facing the State Supreme Court. As explained by the American Medical Association, a woman’s bowel was perforated during a hysterectomy procedure that was performed laproscopically. Apparently this is a risk known to be possible during this type of procedure yet the woman launched a lawsuit against the doctor alleging negligence during the surgery.
In an original trial, the jury found in favor of the doctor after expert witness testimony highlighted the known risk element despite the plaintiff’s argument that the case was about upholding a standard of care. The case went on to an appeal with the State Superior Court which handed down a ruling saying a new trial was required and in the new trial the expert witness testimony regarding the known risks should not be allowed.
Now the State Supreme Court has the case and must decide whether the original ruling should stand or whether the new trial should continue. Some have indicated a concern for physicians if the new trial is allowed to happen but others may be viewing this as a win for patient protection.