Ashcraft v. King

In Ashcraft v. King (1991) 228 Cal. App. 3d 604, the patient had given consent to a surgical procedure; blood transfusions were a normally expected part or consequence of such a procedure. The physician, however, disregarded the patient's request to use only family-donated blood for the transfusion. Unbeknownst to anyone, the nonfamily blood actually used was contaminated and the patient contracted AIDS. The intent, for purposes of a battery cause of action, was not whether the doctor "intended" to administer tainted blood; clearly, he did not. The doctor did, however, intentionally deviate from the consent, which was premised on the instruction to use only family-donated blood. The Court of Appeal held a patient may place conditions on the doctor's authority to perform an operation, and the doctor who violates the conditions may be liable for battery. Consent was given for surgery to correct a curvature of the spine of a 16-year-old girl, but the consent was expressly conditioned on the use of only family-donated blood for necessary transfusions. (Id. at pp. 608-609.) The surgeon ignored the condition and used blood from the general supplies on hand at the hospital, some of which came from an HIV-positive donor. (Id. at p. 609.) Subsequently, the girl became HIV positive. (Ibid.) There are three elements to a claim for medical battery under a violation of conditional consent: the patient must show his consent was conditional; the doctor intentionally violated the condition while providing treatment; and the patient suffered harm as a result of the doctor's violation of the condition. (Ashcraft v. King, supra, 228 Cal.App.3d at p. 611.)