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Not so new directions in the law of consent? Examining Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board


This paper examines the UK Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board, which deals with consent and information disclosure in medical treatment and care. It signaled a move away from a ‘doctor knows best’ approach to one that focuses on disclosing information to which particular patients would attach significance. Notwithstanding concerns about increased litigation and loss of professional autonomy, the reality is that the decision will make little difference to healthcare practice and consent in the UK. The Supreme Court has endorsed a view that most lawyers and doctors thought already prevailed, and it reflects the General Medical Council's guidance on the issue of consent in any case. Given recent healthcare scandals in the National Health Service (NHS), the Supreme Court's legal recognition of the importance of recognizing patient autonomy in disclosing risks about medical treatment and care is a welcome development.

  • Ethics
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