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Physicians have both a legal and an ethical duty to provide their patients with appropriate informed consent prior to the performance of a surgical procedure.  Appropriate informed consent requires that a patient be given accurate information about the nature of their own condition, the various treatment options and full and complete information about the likelihood of success from the proposed procedure, including the risks and the known associated potential complications.  Unfortunately, physicians don’t always provide patients with accurate information, but sometimes “puff up” the potential benefits of a new or novel surgical approach.

Recently, the University of Missouri paid out over sixteen million dollars ($16,000,000) to resolve patient disputes from a new knee joint procedure dubbed the “BioJoint” by the operating surgeon and his veterinary partner.  According to the court filings, the veterinarian (not a licensed physician) scrubbed into some of the surgical procedures and the patients were apparently not told that the BioJoint had an extremely high failure rate – approaching eighty-six percent (86%).  This was an out of court settlement and some of the details have been sealed, however, it serves as a reminder to patients that doing some of your own research and obtaining a second opinion is a good idea, especially when a new or novel surgical procedure is being offered.

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