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The law of informed consent to medical treatment has recently been extensively overhauled in England. The 2015 Montgomery judgement has done away with the long-held position that the information to be disclosed by doctors when obtaining valid consent from patients should be determined on the basis of what a reasonable body of medical opinion agree ought to be disclosed in the circumstances. The UK Supreme Court concluded that the information that is material to a patient’s decision should instead be judged by reference to a new two-limbed test founded on the notions of the ‘reasonable person’ and the ‘particular patient’. The rationale outlined in Montgomery for this new test of materiality, and academic comment on the ruling’s significance, has focused on the central ethical importance that the law now (rightfully) accords to respect for patient autonomy in the process of obtaining consent from patients. In this presentation, I dispute the claim that the new test of materiality articulated in Montgomery equates with respect for autonomy being given primacy in re-shaping the development of the law in this area. I also defend this position, arguing that my revised interpretation of Montgomery’s significance does not equate with a failure by the courts to give due legal consideration to what is owed to patients as autonomous decision-makers in the consent process. Instead, I argue that Montgomery correctly implies that doctors are ethically (and legally) obliged to attend to a number of relevant normative considerations in framing decisions about consent to treatment, which will include subtle interpretations of the values of autonomy and well-being. Doctors should give appropriate consideration to how these values are fleshed out and balanced in context in order to specify precisely what information ought to be disclosed to a patient as a requirement of obtaining consent, and as a core component of shared decision-making within medical encounters more generally.

 

If you would like to attend, please e-mail Jane Beinart at jane.beinart@ethox.ox.ac.uk.

Forthcoming events

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Regulation of AI in healthcare: what should we expect?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Genomic secondary findings in inherited heart conditions: a recall by genotype study

Wednesday, 04 September 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Oxford Open Doors

Saturday, 14 September 2019, 12.30pm to 4pm

The Nuffield Department of Population Health will be open to the public as part of this year's Open Doors event. Find out how medical researchers use big data to answer important questions about human health around the world.

Pharmaceutical policies in the long run: reflections on 60th anniversary of the Hinchliffe Report

Monday, 11 November 2019, 9.30am to 5pm @ Merton College, Merton Street Oxford, OX1 4JD

Designing and Running Streamlined Randomized Trials

Monday, 13 January 2020 to Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 9.30am - 5pm