Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Johnson v. Kokemoor case brief

Johnson v. Kokemoor case brief summary
545 N.W.2d 495 (1996)

Plaintiff patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in circuit court against defendant physician that alleged that he failed to obtain her informed consent, pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 448.30(1993-94), before he performed surgery that left her a partial quadriplegic. The jury entered judgment in her favor. The appeals court reversed the decision on grounds of inadmissible evidence and directed a new trial. Plaintiff appealed.


The patient argued that the appeals court erred when it directed a new trial. The physician contended that the lower courts erred when they allowed evidence related to his surgical experience; his morbidity and mortality statistics compared to experienced physicians; and his experience operating on aneurysms comparable to the patient's aneurysm. The physician argued that informed consent required that a physician reveal only those risks inherent in the treatment and that he was prejudiced by evidence that compared his surgical experience to the skill of more experienced surgeons.


  • The supreme court reversed the decision, concluding that all three items of evidence were material to the issue of informed consent. 
  • The patient could not have made an informed, intelligent decision to consent to the physician's suggested treatment when the physician failed to disclose all of the viable alternatives and risks of the treatment. 
  • A reasonable person in the patient's position would not have consented to surgery by the physician had she been fully informed of its risks and advantages.

The supreme court reversed the decision and remanded the case for further proceedings on the question of damages.

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