Protecting the public trust–a robotically assisted liver donation case

One common theme of the Lewis Blackman and Michael Skolnik stories is that of a surgeon who neglects to engage in a proper informed consent with a patient about the relative risks and benefits of a new surgical procedure. That both cases end in tragedy is immensely sad, but it would be a mistake to view the cases as isolated examples.  Indeed, they are representative of a broader violation of the public trust.  As I have noted with regard to the Blackman case:

[These are] cases in which an ambitious surgeon with a new technique or using new equipment takes on a case without providing full disclosure to the patient or family about the potential for increased risk compared to proven methods.  Some hospitals are complicit in promoting such “experiments” by not requiring IRB approval (i.e., human subjects review) or approval by some peer ethics committee.  They (surgeon and hospital) do this for business reasons, to offer themselves in a competitive marketplace as having “the latest and the best.”  The surgeon then writes an article proclaiming the success of the new procedure, but that article seldom or ever looks at the long-term consequences, and it never indicates why–in terms of risk to the patient–the new procedure went forth in the first place.

Today, I summarize another case that, to me, raises similar concerns.  I offer it so that you can make your own judgment. If you are interested, continue reading here.