A woman in her mid-thirties suffered from a rare malignancy in her brain and around her spinal cord. She had surgery, and most of the tumor mass was removed, but residual tumor remained in the brain and around the spinal cord. The doctors informed her that chemotherapy and radiation were possible treatment options but could cause serious problems such as sepsis, a permanent loss of IQ and stature, and even death. She wished to proceed with the therapy.
After undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, she did independent research and read of several drugs being administered for cancer in other states that were unapproved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and were illegal in their home state but were touted by physicians using them as “miracle cures.” The woman is considering suing her physician for failure to disclose alternative treatments, thus depriving her of informed consent.
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A court awarded summary judgment to the physician.
Respond to the following questions about this case:
- In your opinion, does the court’s decision seem warranted? Why or why not?
- Under the doctrine of informed consent, should a physician be responsible for informing patients of all treatment options, even if some of the treatments are illegal or not yet proven effective? Explain your answer.