Risk disclosure and informed consent: practice caveats in the post‐Montgomery era

Risk disclosure and informed consent: practice caveats in the post‐Montgomery era
Original Article
Danny WH Lee, Paul BS Lai
Surgical Practice, 1 April 2020
The UK Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board has overturned the use of the “accepted practice test” (Bolam) in deciding breach of duty cases related to risk disclosure and informed consent. Following Montgomery, a doctor is under a legal duty to take reasonable care to ensure his patient is aware of any material risks involved in the recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative or variant treatments. Based on Montgomery and a number of relevant published cases, this article highlighted some practice caveats for surgeons to take note of when they participate in the consent process with the following headings: the objective and subjective elements of the legal test of materiality of risks; postoperative risks, follow‐up and management; timing and adequacy of risk disclosure; withholding information and therapeutic exception; and the incorporation of Montgomery into local professional code and case law. In order to minimize legal risks, surgeons are also encouraged to keep abreast of the medico‐legal development in this area, to reflect on their own practices, and to take proactive steps to enhance their interactions with patients.

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