Refusal of Treatment—Liability, Patient Safety and Ethical Considerations
This article summarizes a number of NORCAL closed claims that illustrate various informed refusal scenarios. In many of these cases, an appropriate informed refusal process and documentation could have reduced patient harm and dissuaded the patient from filing a lawsuit. Where the patient did file a lawsuit, documentation of the informed refusal strengthened the defense.
This article includes healthcare ethics content, which may help meet CME credit ethics requirements in some states.
CASE ONE Documentation of Informed Refusal and Leaving Against Medical Advice
CASE TWO No Documentation of Leaving Against Medical Advice
CASE THREE No Documentation of Referral Refusal
CASE FOUR Hard-to-Believe Patient Refusal of Treatment
CASE FIVE Lack of Documentation of the Risks of Not Obtaining Recommended Testing