A physician has a duty to disclose to a patient sufficient information to permit a patient to make an informed and intelligent decision on whether to submit to a proposed course of treatment or surgical procedure. This is called informed consent.
In providing informed consent for a medical procedure, a physician should disclose the diagnosis, the general nature of the contemplated procedure, the material risks involved in the procedure, the probability of success associated with the procedure, the prognosis if the procedure is not carried out, and the existence and risks of any alternatives to the procedure.
A physician is required to disclose material risks, not all risks. In determining whether risks are material, a physician is not required to inform a patient of risks that are so remote as to be negligible, even when the consequences may be severe. The physician is not required to inform the patient of a very minor consequence even though the probability is high. And, there is no duty to disclose risks that are common knowledge as inherent in the treatment. A risk is material if a reasonable patient would consider it in deciding on medical treatment.
A duty to disclose can arise only if the physician knew or should have known of the risk to be disclosed.
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