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[Medical responsibility for disclosure in legal cases of the German federal court].

Authors
  • Giesen, D
Type
Published Article
Journal
Unfallchirurgie
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1986
Volume
12
Issue
1
Pages
34–38
Identifiers
PMID: 3962013
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The principles herein discussed show yet again that in determining the physician's duty of disclosure, courts rely on general standards and statutory provisions which they then apply more particularly to the facts of the individual case. Physicians, however, are apprehensive of such flexibel criteria, and perhaps even prejudiced against "the lawyers" who, rather than directing their attention to the needs of the individual doctor-patient relationship, tend to think in terms of the principles involved. To quote a distinguished English judge, "It is always easy to be wise after the event". This, of course, is one thing the physician cannot afford to be. Although courts may have the benefit of hindsight, a physician must assess the patient's informational needs at the outset: a problem he has to learn to live with and for which the lawyer must develop a greater understanding. But in so doing, the lawyer must not lose sight of the patient, who is at the mercy of the physician and can easily fall victim to his lack of diligence. In summary, in defining the extent of the physician's duty to inform, particularly in respect of possible or as yet unknown side effects, the general standards referred to above must be applied, bearing in mind the facts of the individual case, such as the urgency of the proposed treatment, its severity and inherent risks, possible side effects, and the patient's educational background, as well as the possible effect of disclosure on his mental and emotional well-being.

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