Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors should not cherry pick what information to give patients, court rules

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 13 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1414
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1The BMJ

Doctors should no longer decide what information a patient should be given before agreeing to treatment, the UK Supreme Court has ruled in a historic judgment.1

The age of “medical paternalism” is over, and healthcare is now a partnership between patients and professionals, seven justices declared unanimously in the most important UK judgment on informed consent for 30 years.

The judgment sweeps away a ruling delivered by the United Kingdom’s highest court 30 years ago in its previous incarnation as the House of Lords appellate committee. The court decided in the Sidaway case in 1985 that the “Bolam” test for clinical negligence—whether a doctor’s actions would have been acceptable to a responsible body of medical opinion—applies to the information given as well as the treatment chosen and the method of carrying …

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