'Bolam' to 'Montgomery' Is Result of Evolutionary Change of Medical Practice Towards 'Patient-Centred Care'

Postgrad Med J. 2017 Jan;93(1095):46-50. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2016-134236. Epub 2016 Jul 27.

Abstract

The Supreme Court judgement in 'Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board' has caused a change in the law concerning the duty of doctors on disclosure of information to patients regarding risks. The law now requires a doctor to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative or variant treatments. Are doctors totally removed from the protective shield even if the practice is accepted by a reasonable body of medical opinion previously laid down by 'Bolam' with the recent Supreme Court decision in the 'Montgomery' case? This paper questions whether the 'Bolam' principle needs to be discarded or re-interpreted in the modern context of health care. Adopting 'patient-centred' care to unfold the 'significant risks' attached to patients would align with the evolving changes in medical law. It should be the changing context of health care driving the evolving change of law.

Keywords: MEDICAL ETHICS; MEDICAL LAW; PRIMARY CARE.

MeSH terms

  • Disclosure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Patient-Centered Care / trends*