Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



It has long been recognized in American law that a proper patient-physician relationship is founded upon the technical competency of the physician. Before the advent of cases dealing with informed consent, a patient who had given his consent to proposed treatment could recover for injuries only when the physician had acted incompetently in the administration of the treatment. Within the past fifteen years, however, the courts have recognized that the maintenance of a proper patient-physician relationship depends not only upon the technical competency of the physician, but also upon the presence of effective communication between the two parties. Therefore, recent cases have held physicians liable on a theory of negligence, even though the patient has given a valid consent and the physician has demonstrated a technical competency, when it was established that the communication respecting the proposed treatment was inadequate. This increased emphasis upon effective communication will undoubtably lead to a greater public confidence in the medical profession.