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Hysterectomy Consent Law Dismissed

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 5:06am

Indiana lawmakers decided not to take action on a bill that would have warned women about the specific risks of having a hysterectomy, primarily because existing state law already mandates such action. House Bill 1366 would have required informed consent for a doctor to perform a hysterectomy.

The bill would have required a doctor to specifically state that the procedure will result in infertility, as well as provide a description of the discomforts and risks that might result. Several women testified about the side effects they experienced after having a hysterectomy, from joint pain and thyroid problems to depression and a reduced sex drive.

One spoke about the repeated hemorrhaging she experienced after the births of two of her children. Doctors tried several procedures to address the problem but eventually had to resort to a hysterectomy to fully remove the placenta from the second birth. She did not sign a specific consent form and suggested a different approach during pregnancy could have avoided the hysterectomy.

Others who testified said doctors lied to them and even performed hysterectomies without their permission. Tim Kennedy, lobbying on behalf of the Indiana Hospital Association, sympathized with the women’s experiences but said Indiana already has a state law requiring informed consent for all surgical procedures. It specifically requires doctors to inform patients about the general nature of their condition; the proposed treatment or procedure; the expected outcome; and the material risks and reasonable alternatives.

He told legislators there are also penalties for doctors who don’t follow the informed consent law.

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