To avoid litigation: Get informed consent when a medication can cause permanent side effects, and there are less risky alternatives available.
Example: A physician prescribed prednisone for over a year for an asthmatic patient. The patient developed aseptic necrosis of the hip. The patient sued the physician under the theory of failure to obtain informed consent. The patient claimed that had he known that aseptic necrosis was a potential side effect, he would not have taken the prednisone. A jury found for the physician defendant, but a court of appeals reversed, holding that treatment with a more conservative drug was a viable and preferable alternative, and a reasonable patient might choose the alternative, if given information about the risk of aseptic necrosis.
This tip is excerpted from The Gold Sheet, a monthly newsletter published by the Law Office of Carolyn Buppert.
The Gold Sheet covers the latest news on quality for NPs. For a 12-month subscription, send a check for $25 to The Gold Sheet, Law Office of Carolyn Buppert, 1419 Forest Drive, Suite 205, Annapolis, MD 21403. A companion newsletter, The Green Sheet, offers the latest information on NP compensation and reimbursement.