A new study finds that risks connected to anesthesia in children with pulmonary hypertension remain high, even with the use of new, disease-modifying treatments. The research is an example of information that should likely be shared with a patient to ensure informed consent.
A new study is highlighting the need for informed consent. Essentially, informed consent requires that physicians or other medical providers explain a medical condition, treatment choices and potential risks in easy to understand language so patients can make an informed decision on how to move forward with their medical care. Without informed consent, physicians could be liable for any injuries that occur during treatment of the patient.
The study focuses on the risks associated with pulmonary hypertension (PHT). PHT is generally defined as abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. Symptoms can include shortness of breath and fainting. Experts with Boston Children’s Hospital note that although there is not currently a cure for pediatric PHT, there are medications available that can reduce the symptoms and improve lung and heart function.
Because of these medications, children with this disease are living longer lives. This can lead to the need for medical procedures for ailments associated with PHT or other diseases. In the past, only surgeries to address life threatening issues were considered due to the high risk of adverse events during the procedure. However, with the advent of these medications a group of researchers reviewed data to determine if the use of anesthesia in surgery for children with PHT was now less dangerous. Ultimately, the researchers found that the risk of complications remains too high to ignore.
More on the study
The study, The Impact of Targeted Therapies for Pulmonary Hypertension on Pediatric Intraoperative Moribidity or Mortality, reviewed records gathered from 2008 to 2012. This led to data for 122 patients that were undergoing 284 procedures. Researchers with the study found that although there are survival benefits associated with the use of new, disease-modifying treatments, the risk of an adverse event during anesthesia for these patients remains high.
Example of need for informed consent
Due to these findings, physicians treating children with PHT should discuss the potential risks of using anesthesia on these patients. Without this discussion, a patient will likely lack informed consent if the patient or legal guardian agrees to a procedure. Moving forward with a procedure without informed consent can lead to charges of gross negligence. If a patient is injured during such a procedure, he or she may be eligible to receive compensation to help cover the costs associated with the injury. This is true in any case involving a lack of informed consent.
Those who believe their injuries are connected to a lack of informed consent should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss their case.
Keywords: personal injury medical malpractice informed consent