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Bang v. Charles T. Miller Hospital Case Brief

Summary of Bang v. Charles T. Miller Hospital, 251 Minn. 427, 88 N.W.2d 186 (1958)

Facts: Plaintiff went to the defendant (doctor) to get his urinary problems checked out.  The defendant performed some tests and then an operation took place in which the defendant severed the plaintiff’s spermatic cords, thus rendering the plaintiff sterile.  The plaintiff was not informed that his spermatic cords will be severed.  The trial judge granted the motion filed by the defense that the plaintiff failed to prove any actionable negligence or any cause of action against the defendant.  The plaintiff appeals and argues that the question of whether there was an unauthorized operation should have been decided by the jury.

Issue:  Should a jury have decided whether the plaintiff had consented to the severance of his spermatic cords when he submitted to the operation?

Holding: Yes

Rationale:  RULE: “…where a physician or surgeon can ascertain in advance of an operation alternative situations and no immediate emergency exists, a patient should be informed of the alternative possibilities and given a chance to decide before the doctor proceeds with the operation.”  In the current case, the plaintiff was under no immediate threat and the doctor should have explained to him his options.  Therefore, a jury should decide whether the plaintiff consented to the operation that the defendant performed on him. Reversed and remanded.




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