All of us as individuals are the owners of our individual bodies. Absent
of some type of emergency, other people must get permission to physically
intrude upon the body of another. This normally goes without saying when
negotiating your daily routine, but you should know that it also applies
to the treatment you receive from medical providers as well. That is,
prior to undergoing medical procedures, your doctor needs to obtain your
informed consent to complete the treatment. Without such consent, you
may have a Poughkeepsie medical malpractice case against any provider
violating your autonomy.
This concept is rigorously followed by New York Courts and it has been
found in various other states since the influential 1905 case,
Mohr v. Williams.
Mrs. Mohr was a patient of Dr. Williams. The doctor was responsible to
repair ear damage within her right ear. Both of her ears were in need
of care, but Mohr agreed to have surgery on her right ear. The doctor,
however, ended up repairing the left ear while Mohr was under sedation,
believing that the left ear was in need of more immediate attention.
Mohr was not in agreement when she realized what the doctor had done. She
ended up suing the doctor for civil battery, which is a claim alleging
that a person had direct and intentional physical contact with another
person without having received consent or authority to have such contact.
Mohr won her case because she did not grant the surgeon permission to perform
procedures anywhere on her body except for her right ear. More distinctively,
Mohr gave the doctor specific consent to operate on her right ear, which
meant that the doctor did not have general consent to operate on any part
of her body except for that particular ear. Note that the doctor is supposed
to act for and on behalf of the patient, and not on his own particular
interests or beliefs. Moreover, no emergency existed that would excuse
the doctor’s actions because the injury to Mohr’s left ear
was not life threatening; therefore, the “emergency doctrine”
would not shield the doctor from liability.
You might be thinking that Dr. Williams honestly, and in good faith, thought
that he was healing the patient. Such was not relevant even though the
procedure was successful. Quite plainly, the court believed that the patient’s
wishes were ignored. Thus, the public policy reason for this case is to
ensure health care providers are complying with their client’s wishes,
as opposed to doing any type of procedure they wish.
In New York, the concept of Mohr was made into a law,
Public Health Law Section 2805-d. Within this statute, informed consent is defined as:
“The failure of the person providing the professional treatment or
diagnosis to disclose to the patient such alternatives thereto and the
reasonable foreseeable risks and benefits involved as a reasonable, medical,
dental or podiatric practitioner under similar circumstances would have
disclosed, in a manner permitting the patient to make a knowledgeable
Our experienced Poughkeepsie
medical malpractice attorneys handle a significant amount of informed consent cases, as it
is regularly a cause of action in most medical malpractice cases—at
least when the case is commenced.
True lack of informed consent cases require proof demonstrating that if
the patient had been given full information, he or she still would not
have consented to the treatment. Moreover, proof is needed which indicates
that the injury was the direct result of deficient informed consent.
Negligence by the hands of a doctor is complex and might not be easily
ascertained due to additional medical negligence and because it is in
general a hard type of injury to discover. An experienced attorney will
know how to examine your case so not to miss the “needle-in-the-haystack”
that lack of informed consent may be.
Our medical malpractice attorneys at Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor,
P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of
personal injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious personal injury accidents,
particularly throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston,
Newburgh where we have offices.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident, please
do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or toll free
at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here.