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Law Notes Medical Law Notes

Consent To Treatment And Trespass Notes

Updated Consent To Treatment And Trespass Notes

Medical Law Notes

Medical Law

Approximately 1067 pages

Medical Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB medical law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Medical Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through forty-eight LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest ...

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1. Trespass to the Person

  • Chatterton v Gerson [1981] 1 All ER 257: P went to see doctor because of pain surrounding scar; D undertook an operation. P later returned for second operation (same again) and was not told of the risks. When suffered immobility claimed trespass to person and negligence; said would not have gone ahead if knew of the risks. Bristow LJ:

    • Consent must be real; as soon as it is shown that it is unreal there is a claim in trespass to the person.

    • Once the patient is informed in broad terms of the nature of the procedure which is intended, and consents, it is real, and the cause of the action on which to claim for failure to go into risks is negligence, not trespass.

      • In this case P knew of the nature of the injection to be given and therefore gave real consent.

    • Getting the patient to sign a pro forma expressing consent to undergo the operation 'the effect and nature of which have been explained to me' is no defence where that explanation has not, in fact, been given.

    • For a claim in negligence; in the medical context must be a greater failure than usual to succeed in breach of duty; then must further prove that would not have chosen to have had the operation if fully informed.

    • Comments on the negligence claim:

      • There is no obligation on the doctor to canvass with the patient anything other than the inherent implications of the particular operation he intends to carry out.

      • But, he ought to warn of what may happen by misfortune however well the operation is done, if there is a real risk of a misfortune inherent in the procedure.

      • In what he says any good doctor has to take into account the personality of the patient, the likelihood of the misfortune, and what in the way of warning is for the particular patient's welfare.

      • The condition of P’s leg and foot was not a possibility inherent in the operation of which the doctor should have warned her. The claim of negligence failed.

  • R v Tabassum [2000] 2 Cr. App. R. 328: A asked women to take part in a ‘breast cancer survey’. Three women let him touch their breasts in belief that he had medical qualifications/training. Motivation was unclear. Rose LJ:

    • There will be no genuine consent if a woman is misled either as to the identity of the man who does the acts complained of, or as to the nature and quality of the act done.

    • The case of Richardson [dental treatment by a person whom has been struck off the register] proceeded only on the point of identity and not on the nature and quality of the act; distinguished on this basis.

    • Consent was given because theymistakenly believed that the defendant was medically qualified or, in the case of the third complainant, trained at Christie's and that, in consequence, the touching was for a medical purpose.

    • As this was not so, there was no true consent. They were consenting to touching for medical purposes not to indecent behaviour, that is, there was consent to the nature of the act but not its quality.

  • Re T [1992] 4 All ER 649: T was injured in a car accident and needed a blood transfusion. After a private conversation with her mother (Jehovah’s Witness) T told staff that she used to belong a sect which forbade transfusions, and that she still maintained some beliefs in that respect and therefore refused consent. She signed a consent form, but was not told that the transfusion might be necessary to save her life. After application to court, at which point T being seriously ill, a judge ordered that a transfusion to save her life was permitted, given that in the prevailing life or death circumstances she had neither given nor refused consent. Appeal by T.

    • Lord Donaldson:

      • An adult patient who suffers from no mental incapacity has an absolute right to choose whether to consent or refuse medical treatment; although thought might be qualified where the woman was pregnant but expressed no further opinion on the point as that would be a novel case for the court.

        • Notes presumption of capacity; not a question of intelligence or education.

      • Treating a person without consent amounts to trespass; except where unconscious or unable to give consent in which case must be treated in accordance with best interests and clinical judgment;

        • Next of kin has no legal right to refuse or give consent in these cases of emergency.

      • Notes that case shows conflict between individual interest of self-determination and the interests of society in the preservation of life- in a case of doubt should resolve in favour of life.

      • A doctor should consider whether capacity is commensurate with the gravity of decision made.

      • When considering the effect of outside influences two aspects are very important:

        • The strength of the will of the patient e.g. where tired, in pain or depressed.

        • The relationship of the persuader to the patient e.g. parents, religious beliefs held by others.

      • The scope a refusal may not cover the decision which falls to be addressed; in a case where the refusal ceases to be effective a doctor must act in accordance with best interests and clinical judgement.

      • English law does not accept the transatlantic concept of 'informed consent' and it follows that it would reject any concept of 'informed refusal'. What is required is that the patient knew in broad terms the nature and effect of the procedure to which consent (or refusal) was given.

    • Butler Sloss LJ: Agrees with above but with a focus on the undue influence aspect; thought that the fact that T was in a weakened state of health and the power of mother/religion meant that refusal could not be deemed to cover a life or death situation; appeal therefore failed.

    • Staughton LJ: Cautious to note that where there is doubt over whether consent exists a decision of a doctor acting in good faith will be sufficient to discharge a claim; thinks that should come to the court first.

  • S v St George's Healthcare NHS Trust...

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