Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al.: Informed Consent and Personal Conflicts of Interest in Medical Malpractice Cases

As our Spartanburg personal injury attorney know, doctors are required to give patients all the information necessary to make an informed decision as to whether they should undergo a particular procedure. Often times, that means weighing the benefits and risks associated with the medical procedure. However, in at least some cases, it may require disclosure as to whether the doctor has a financial incentive to perform the procedure, aside from the normal medical bill.

hospitalcorridor1.jpgShapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., et al., the plaintiff fell off a ladder and broke several ribs. While in the hospital, he was still experiencing significant pain in his ribs, even though he was taking oral pain medication.

Oral pain medication enters the body after being swallowed and has a pain-reducing effect on the nervous system as a whole. While some medications work better for certain types of pain than others, they are not considered a target analgesic.

The plaintiff’s treating physician at the hospital was concerned about the patient’s pain level and called in a thoracic surgeon who described himself as a pain control specialist and a specialist in the use of an “Out-Q” catheter for the management of chest pain.

The use of an Out-Q catheter involved the insertion of a catheter between the skin and the ribs so that analgesic medication could be supplied to the nerves surrounding the actual location of pain, rather than just taking an oral opiate-based painkiller.

The surgeon discussed the risks and benefits of the procedure, but did not mention certain things. He omitted the fact that the FDA had not approved the catheter for this particular purpose, nor did he mention that he was paid by the medical device manufacturer as a speaker and instructor with regard to this off-label use of the catheter. According to court records, the doctor also failed to mention that he was a lead investigator at the hospital on a study he was performing at the hospital on this particular use of the catheter.

The plaintiff was not even aware, according to his testimony, that the procedure was considered experimental. He apparently believed this was a routine procedure and had no idea that his surgeon was being paid by the medical device manufacturer to conduct research.

After agreeing to undergo the procedure based on the little information he was given, the patient had the catheter inserted into his chest. The following day, it was inadvertently removed by his treating physician and had to be implanted again. During the removal or reinsertion, the catheter punctured the patient’s internal organs, and he required extensive surgery to repair the damage. Financially, this injury resulted in millions of dollars in personal injury damages.

The trial court felt that the jury was entitled to consider whether the doctor failed to adequately advise his patient by not disclosing his personal financial interest in the catheter. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that this possible conflict of interest should be presented to the jury. The case will proceed to trial.

Contact the Spartanburg personal injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Shapria, M.D. et al. v. Christiana Care Health Services, Inc., August 7, 2014, Supreme Court of Delaware

More Blog Entries:

Reducing Medication Errors in Nursing Homes, March 12, 2014, Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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