Broad, written informed consent for a medical procedure can be negated by an oral conversation at the time the consent is signed



United States

In Idlibi v. Conn. State Dental Comm'n, No. AC 44331 (Conn. App. 2022), the plaintiff, a pediatric dentist, provided care to a three-year-old patient under general anesthesia. During the course of the procedure, the plaintiff placed eight stainless steel crowns in the patient's mouth. The patient's mother subsequently filed a complaint with the Department of Public Health regarding the plaintiff’s treatment of her son. As a result, the plaintiff was subject to disciplinary action for failing to obtain adequate informed consent before placing the crowns. After a number of hearings, appeals, and remands, the plaintiff challenged the court's dismissal of his administrative appeal.

The plaintiff challenged the court's determination that it was proper for the commission to rely on its own expertise in assessing the evidence and in reaching its conclusion that the plaintiff had breached the applicable standard of care. The Court of Appeals of Connecticut rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and held that a governing medical board is granted broad discretion, pursuant to its statutory authority, to determine the appropriate standard of care in an administrative licensing procedure (at 10-12).

The plaintiff also argued that he did obtain informed consent for the placement of the crowns because the patient’s mother consented to the use of multiple crowns as needed, and to treating unforeseen conditions. The Court disagreed and held that "[t]he plaintiff’s standard form of consent, [which was] silent on the mother's understanding of the procedure, [did] not govern," because the mother, at the time that she signed the form, specifically told the plaintiff that she expected to hear from him during the operation and had requested that the plaintiff speak with her after obtaining X-rays. Therefore, the dentist’s actions exceeded the informed consent that he received from the patient’s mother (at 14-15).

June 15, 2022
Idlibi v. Conn. State Dental Comm'n, No. AC 44331 (Conn. App. 2022)
Author: Carli Kadish
Connecticut Courts