Landmark Legal Cases-Implications for the Counseling Field
Informed consent allows the client to have autonomy in the therapeutic relationship. When counselors or other medical professions fail to provide the client with informed consent this will result in legal and ethical violations. Herlihy & Corey (2006) consider informed consent one of the simplest rights afforded to clients.
The first case that I have reviewed centers on informed consent and hindsight bias. Ms. Drewry who was suffering from excruciating pelvic pain who after a number of unsuccessful attempts of managing the pain with prescribed medication had a hysterectomy. While in surgery a one-month old embryo was discovered and as a consequence to the surgery was aborted. The Ms. Drewry decided to sue Mr. Harwell indicting Mr. Harwell performed an unwanted procedure, sexual misconduct, resulting in an unwanted abortion.
The court ordered Mr. Bursztajn a forensic psychiatrist to examine the plaintiff Ms. Drewry. Mr. Bursztajn testified on behalf of the defendant in which he was considered an expert witness in the field of medical decision-making including informed consent. Mr. Bursztajn testified Ms. Drewry received the standard of care associated with the areas of medical decision making as well as informed consent, noting that Mr. Harwell attended to the vocal wishes and desires of the client. He also noted that the plaintiff, Ms. Drewry has a history of feeling victimized due to early developmental trauma. According to Medical Liability Advisory Service (1996) Ms. Drewry had a challenging time taking blame. There was however evidences that she had made an informed decision prior to surgery nevertheless she decided to reject any responsibility-associated with her informed decision. This case examines the responsibility of both the client and the physician roles pertaining to informed consent.
The Arndt v. Smith is a Canadian case where the client was given minimal information about the risks of chickenpox on her growing fetus. Arndt’s claim that she would have aborted the fetus having known the increased risks chickenpox would have on her unborn child. The Supreme Court reasserted the landmark case of the 1980 decision in Reibl v. Hughes, which addressed the importance of informed consent.
The case of Arndt v. Smith according to Capen (1997) would have a distinct impact on informed consent. The impact would be through allowing the plaintiffs to give personal perspective on what they would do if given specific information about their situation. The impact of these to Canadian cases has caused not only doctors but also any healthcare professionals to reevaluate the information they provide to the client. The health professional will need to be more forthcoming with possible side effects that can be detrimental to the client and their wellbeing in which the resolution is better communication between the healthcare professional and client.