Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Arato v. Avedon case brief

Arato v. Avedon case brief summary
858 P.2d 598 (1993)

Plaintiffs, patient's family, appealed the judgment of the Court of Appeal (California), which reversed the trial court's holding that defendant doctors had breached their duty to disclose to plaintiff patient information material to his decision whether to undergo radiation and chemotherapy.

Patient was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and defendant doctors performed surgery and recommended chemotherapy and radiation. Patient underwent the treatment and died one year after the surgery. Defendants had not disclosed to patient his very low statistical life expectancy with pancreatic cancer. Plaintiffs, patient's family, filed an action against defendants, claiming that in advising patient to undergo a course of radiation and chemotherapy, defendants failed to disclose the shortcomings of the treatment in light of the diagnosis, and thus had failed to obtain patient's informed consent. The trial court found for defendants, holding that none of defendants were negligent in patient's medical management, and that defendants had adequately obtained patient's informed consent to treatment.


  • The appellate court reversed, holding that the jury instructions were improper, the trial court erred in permitting defendants to introduce expert medical witnesses, and that defendants had breached their duty of disclosure. 
  • The court reversed, holding that disclosure of life expectancy probabilities by doctors was not mandatory, and that the jury instructions were proper.

The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court in favor of plaintiffs, patient's family, and held that defendant doctors were not negligent in patient's medical care, and that defendants disclosed to patient all relevant information which would have enabled patient to make an informed decision regarding the proposed treatment to be rendered him.

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