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  • Informed Consent is essential

    Is your Consent informed?

    In my BLOG titled “Is a Medical Consultant negligent in not advising the patient of all risks involved in choice of treatment?” published on the 22/03/2015, referring to the UK case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11, I advised that the law in the UK/Northern Ireland now requires explanation of all material risks to a patient / expectant mother where options for surgery are being explained by a Consultant.

    This issue was also analysed by Doireann O`Mahony BL in an Article in the Irish Times titled “If women are to give medical consent, they must have all the information” on the 30/03/2015.


    Four Courts, Dublin

    High Court, Dublin

    In that Article Ms O`Mahony advised that a patient-centred approach to the issue of consent has been adopted in virtually every major common law jurisdiction, including Australia, Canada and the United States. She referred to the Decision in Ireland of Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns who stated in the case, Geoghegan v Harris [2000] 3 IR 536 that the “reasonable patient test”, which requires full disclosure of all material risks, is the preferable test to adopt, so that the patient, thus informed, makes the choice.


    Yes or No

    Yes or No? Be informed.

    Ms O`Mahony also points out that Mr Justice Kearns visited the issue again in Fitzpatrick v White [2007] IESC 51, noting that while courts in the UK had retained the professional standard test or what might be called the “doctor-centred” approach, some consideration had been given to the fact that there was a duty to impart certain information regarding risks where those risks were likely to be relevant in the eyes of a reasonable patient.


    Emergency Surgery

    Medical Alert

    This view is also endorsed by the Medical Protection Society, the Insurance company which provides indemnity to doctors, where it states on its website that patients should be given all information material to their decision before deciding which option to chose.

    In a busy medical ward or consultation room doctors may be tempted to think that they know what is best for the patient and that they know better when it comes to deciding what treatment to give without involving the patient in that decision. This is however no longer an option for the doctor.