On September 5, 2014, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the hospital defendant. Plaintiff asserted teaching hospitals have a duty to specifically identify on its consent forms (both by name and qualification) all medical personnel, including interns and residents, that may be involved in a medical procedure. That argument was rejected. Plaintiff also asserted consent forms are adhesion contracts and thus should be void. That argument was also rejected.
The case involved several residents who participated in the patient’s treatment, who entered and exited the OR while the patient was unconscious, and whose involvement was not specifically discussed with the patient. Plaintiff argued such conduct amounted to “actual or constructive fraud or deceit.” The Court found catch all language stating others may be involved with the patient’s care acceptable. Thus, there was no duty to specifically list all individuals and their qualifications on the consent form. Despite the claim the consent form was forced on the patient and the patient was not allowed an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract, the Court reasoned that absent a showing that the parameters of the consent were “unconscionable,” the consent form was acceptable. The Court found that an open-ended consent form at a teaching hospital was not an agreement that “no sensible man not under delusion, duress or in distress would make, and such as no honest and fair man would accept.”
This case supports the historical understanding by teaching hospitals and physicians that residents are allowed to participate in patient care; it would be impractical to force hospitals to disclose the specific identity and training of every medical provider that comes in contact with a patient.