+ Site Statistics
+ Search Articles
+ PDF Full Text Service
How our service works
Request PDF Full Text
+ Follow Us
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Twitter
Follow on LinkedIn
+ Subscribe to Site Feeds
Most Shared
PDF Full Text
+ Translate
+ Recently Requested

The patient's right to know--a comparative law perspective



The patient's right to know--a comparative law perspective



Medicine and Law 12(6-8): 553-565



Since every person has the right to determine what will be done to his or her body, he or she has the right to decide whether or not to undergo medical treatment. If this decision is to be more than a pure formality, the patient needs to be fully informed of what that decision entails, and so has a right to know of the risks involved in the treatment he or she is considering. A physician has a corresponding duty to impart the information which the patient needs to enable him or her to reach such an informed decision. This article traces developments in common-law and civil law jurisdictions and considers the extent to which they protect the patient's right to know. The comparative law analysis reveals that English law has tended to fall behind both its common-law relatives and its European neighbours in the amount of protection it affords to this fundamental right because it has allowed liability to be determined by a negligence standard which treats a physician's conformity with the practice of a body of medical opinion as conclusive evidence that he or she has discharged his or her duty. The article warns of a further threat to the patient's right to make an informed decision which has arisen in other common-law jurisdictions in the guise of the so-called 'reasonable patient', whose abstract nature means that his or her presence in standard of care and causation questions brings with it an evidential void which tends to be filled by the evidence of medical experts so that a physician may, once again, be relieved from liability even though he or she has failed to disclose information that the patient before him or her needed to know for the purposes of a treatment decision. The conclusion to be drawn is that only where the standard of care is based on the needs of each patient rather than the opinion of a body of doctors, and only where the focus is kept on the actual patient rather than the hypothetical 'reasonable patient' is the patient's right to know properly protected.

Please choose payment method:






(PDF emailed within 1 workday: $29.90)

Accession: 047696264

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 8183063


Related references

A patient advocate's perspective on patient-centered comparative effectiveness research. Health Affairs 29(10): 1885-1890, 2010

Vindicating the patient's rights: a comparative perspective. Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy 9: 273-309, 1993

Adding the patient perspective to comparative effectiveness research. Health Affairs 29(10): 1863-1871, 2010

Methodological standards and patient-centeredness in comparative effectiveness research: the PCORI perspective. JAMA 307(15): 1636-1640, 2012

Yoga Therapy Research: A Whole-Systems Perspective on Comparative Effectiveness and Patient-Centered Outcomes. International Journal of Yoga Therapy 25(1): 9, 2015

Comparative assessment of low-molecular-weight heparins in cancer from the perspective of patient outcomes and survival. Patient Related Outcome Measures 2: 175-188, 2011

Comparative analysis of primary and secondary rhinoplasties according to surgeon's perspective, patient satisfaction, and quality of life. Annals of Otology Rhinology and Laryngology 121(5): 322-327, 2012

A patient and primary care perspective: a patient's perspective on the treatment of depression. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 67(Suppl. 6): 38-40, 2006

An Australian perspective on the doctor-patient relationship: a comparative prelude to examining duties of disclosure in surgical innovation. Health Law Journal 19: 237-254, 2011

From an individual perspective to a system perspective--10 years of patient safety!. Lakartidningen 107(9): 572-572, 2010

Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis and the etiology of Crohn's disease: Controversy resolution requires the patient perspective, not the clinician perspective. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology 25(6): 297-8; Author Reply 298, 2011

Perspective: cosmetic eyelid surgery from the patient's perspective. Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 19(4): 320-322, 2003

COPD--the primary care perspective: addressing epidemiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment of smoking's multiple morbidities and the patient's perspective. Copd 4(1): 67-83, 2007