Moore v. The Regents of the University of California
Supreme Court of CA - 1990
P went to D shortly after being diagnosed with hairy-cell leukemia. D withdrew blood and marrow and determined that P should have his spleen removed to slow the progress of the disease.
P consented. D ended up using parts of P's spleen in his research of genetics and made considerable amounts of money off of it.
P sued D for breach of fiduciary duty and lack of informed consent as well as conversion.
Trial court sustained demurrer to the conversion count and threw out the entire complaint.
CA COA reversed on the conversion claim and gave P leave to amend on the other claims.
CA Supreme Court affirmed and reversed, lack of informed consent and breach of fiduciary duty claims valid, dismiss conversion claims, let P file against companies for breach of fiduciary duty and lack of informed consent.
Does a doctor have a duty to inform a patient of a research or financial interest in a course of treatment even if these interests are unrelated to the actual treatment?
A doctor has a duty to inform a patient of research or financial interests in a course of treatment even if these interests are unrelated to the actual treatment.
Principles to be used in consent cases…
A person of adult years and in sound mind has the right, in the exercise of control over his own body, to determine whether or not to submit to lawful medical treatment.
The patient's consent to the treatment, to be effective, must be an informed consent.
In soliciting the patient's consent, a physician has a fiduciary duty to disclose all information material to the patient's decision.
Following these principles, the court comes to the following conclusions…
A physician must disclose personal interests unrelated to the patient's health, whether research or economic, that may affect the physician's professional judgment.
A physician's failure to disclose such interests may give rise to a cause of action in breach of fiduciary duty or informed consent.
Doctors are allowed to research and practice in the same area, but they must disclose if there are ulterior motives that could possibly affect decisions they make.
Even small chance risks must be disclosed if serious consequences will follow if the risks become realities (i.e. death).