Courts usually define the duty to provide information in medical informed consent cases as limited to "material risks." But what makes a risk "material"? Sometimes this is determined by the practice in the profession and sometimes by asking what a reasonable patient would have liked to have known. Regardless of the standard, what is "material" also has something to do with the level of risk.
So, should patients be told the level of risk of a CT scan?
CT scans have been getting a lot of attention lately because new studies have shown they expose people to a lot more radiation that previously thought. (CT scans are a high powered x-ray used to provide clearer images than
a traditional x-ray. The scan exposes patients to the radiation
equivalent of 100 to 500 chest x-rays.) And now a new study reveals that patients are often not informed about the levels of
radiation exposure and other health risks they may face. The study, published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine
examined data from a questionnaire given to nearly 300 patients
undergoing CT scans at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)
during November and December 2011.
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