Scott v. Bradford Case Brief

Summary of Scott v. Bradford, S. Ct of Oklahoma [1979]

Professional Negligence – Standard of Care

Relevant Facts: Mrs. Scott, pl, sought treatment from dr. Bradford. She was diagnosed with several fibroid tumors on her uterus. She signed a routine consent to surgery form prior to the hysterectomy. Afterward she was experiencing problems with incontinence [lack of self control], and she visited another doctor. She was found to have a condition which allowed urine to leak from her bladder into her vagina. She underwent three additional surgeries to correct her problem.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the doctor breached a duty to disclose material risks to the pl prior to performance of the surgery?

Court’s Holding: No

Procedure: Jury found for df and pl appealed. No basis for reversal; Affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): Full disclosure of all material risks incident to treatment must be made. A risk is material if it would be likely to affect a patient’s decision.

Court Rationale: The duty to disclose is the first element. Then proof that patient would have chosen no treatment or a different course of treatment had the alternatives and risks been made known, thus establishing a causation. If the patient would have elected to proceed the element of causation is missing, and so to negligence. A causal connection between the patient’s injury and the doctor’s breach of a duty to disclose exists only when the disclosure of material risks would have resulted in a decision against it. The final element is that of an injury. The risk must have actually materialized, AND pl must have been injured as a result of submitting to the treatment.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The df did not disclose material risks incident to the treatment prior to obtaining the consent of the pl.

Defendant’s Argument: The df disclosed material risks surrounding a hysterectomy surgery and pl’s alternative sufficiently.

Exception to the Duty to disclose: There is no need to disclose risks that either ought to be known by everyone or are already known to the patient; or if the disclosure would alarm an emotionally upset patient; or where there is an emergency and the patient is in no condition to determine for himself whether the treatment should be administered.

perdurable –

impetus – encouragement

vitiating – destroy the legal force or authority

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