The Scope of Informed Consent Given by a Patient

By Laura A. Patti, Patti - Avvocati & Rechtsanwälte

This short contribution takes as its starting point an orthopaedic surgery, preceded by the correct information and consequently the informed consent by the patient, where the surgeon decided – in the middle of the procedure – to correct what in his eyes seemed a beauty imperfection, without obtaining the consent of the patient regarding this supplemental procedure.

In the absence, so far, of a specific regulation, the issue of informed consent is placed among the right, protected by the Italian Constitution (art. 32), of health and physical integrity – thus going beyond the idea that the absence of informed consent determines only a prejudice to the right of self-determination. The Italian highest court has stated that when the patient’s conditions change during the surgery, the surgeon will be held (criminally) liable for operating without a new informed consent – except in the event of an unpredictable negative development of the patient’s condition. This principle is now contained in the draft for the first law in the Italian legal system about informed consent (now approved by the Chamber of deputies), where it is stated that, in emergency situations, the doctor and the staff members ensure all the necessary treatments, respecting the patient’s determinations where his/her clinical conditions and the circumstances enable them to do so.

The mentioned orthopaedic surgery case will soon be placed on the trial calendar – but it is hardly likely that an alleged beauty imperfection will be allowed to go beyond the given informed consent.


Laura A. Patti

Laura A. Patti

Patti - Avvocati & Rechtsanwälte, Rome, Italy
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Patti - Avvocati & Rechtsanwälte is an international law firm with offices in Rome, Milan and Munich. Its main areas of practice are family law, inheritance law, business law and international law. In all areas of practice, the law firm works on a cross-border level.

Laura A. Patti is an Associate at Patti – Avvocati & Rechtsanwälte. Fields of specialisation: antitrust law, international arbitration, contracts.


Published: Winter 2017 l Photo: Colourbox.com - ldutko 

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