Should we criminalize a deliberate failure to obtain properly informed consent?

Should we criminalize a deliberate failure to obtain properly informed consent?
Clark Hobson, José Miola
Medical Law International, 25 October 2021
Open Access
This paper takes the form of a polemic and thought experiment. The starting point is that, if medical law’s claims to place autonomy at the heart of the enterprise are to be taken seriously, then autonomy either needs to be considered a recoverable harm, or the most egregious infringements should be subject to the criminal law. This might particularly be the case where a doctor deliberately attempts to modify the patient’s decision by failing to disclose information that they know that the patient would find significant. The article considers medical law’s relationship with autonomy, before applying the criminal law – in the form of the analogous situation of defendants who deliberately fail to disclose HIV+status to their sexual partners. What we find is a distinct difference in the way that autonomy is seen by medical and criminal law, although both are equally unsatisfactory.

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