Materiality and Subjective Patient Standards

A significant number of states have employed the use of a standard commonly referred to as the materiality standard. It is alternately referred to as the “reasonable patient standard,” or the “prudent patient standard.” It purports to ask: what would a reasonable patient in the same or similar situation need to know in order to make an appropriate decision regarding a proposed surgery, treatment, or procedure? In other words, what information would be “material” to the patient’s decision?

Still other jurisdictions have developed a “subjective patient” standard which asks what that particular patient, in his or her own unique set of circumstances and conditions, would need to know, but this has proven to be a hard standard to establish.

Inside Materiality and Subjective Patient Standards