Case Study: Informed Consent

Written by
Rachael O’Shaughnessy on
09 June 2021

High Court settlement for patient who did not receive adequate information on her procedure to allow for her to give fully informed consent before the elective surgery.

HOMS Assist successfully brought a medical negligence action on behalf of a patient against the HSE and their agent/Consultant. They allegedly did not provide full information to the patient to allow for fully informed consent to be provided by the patient for an elective procedure.

The patient suffered a variety of problems as a result of the surgery including: -

  1. Laceration of her ureter
  2. Symptoms of a severe infection as a result of intra-operative damage to her ureter. The plaintiff was readmitted to hospital on several occasions and required yearlong treatment
  3. Anxiety in relation to her poor health and the uncertainty about what course her recovery would take.

The patient, who had a complicated gynaecological history, should have been specifically pre-warned of the significant risk of abdominal lacerations, probably 60-70%. The patient should have been made aware of the increased risk of injury in her case. The generic risk of injury without prior surgery was probably no more than 1-2%, whereas the patient’s specific risk was closer to 60-70%. Injury to the surrounding local structures should have been stressed more than was apparent on the consent form, as this was a material risk. The patient should have been afforded the time to consider and reflect of the possible consequences of injury. The patient was not appropriately counselled pre-operatively. The consent form only indicated generic risk which should have been more specific, and therefore, consent was inadequate. Importantly, the patient could have chosen to observe and wait, rather than to run the risk of further injury.

Furthermore, there was also criticism to be levelled at the poor operative technique which led to the ureteric injury. This was substandard care.

The claims were contested in full, and liability was very much at issue.

The team at HOMS Assist succeeded in securing a High Court settlement on a without prejudice basis for the patient together with her legal costs.*