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Duty to disclose & Informed consent

· health,Lifestyle

Parents make decisions every day about their child’s health and well-being. It is, therefore, important to understand ‘informed consent’.

In order for a parent or caregiver to make an informed decision, the health professional must warn them about any potential risks in regards to the therapy they are prescribing for the child.

In 1992 a landmark high court decision was made that altered the course of ‘informed consent’ and a ‘duty to disclose’.

Below is an excerpt from an article written 1993 on the case of “Rogers v Whitaker: Duty to Disclose” for the journal of Bioethics Research Notes.

“The Law should recognise that a medical practitioner has a duty to warn a patient of a material risk inherent in the proposed treatment; a risk is material if, in the circumstances of the particular case, a reasonable person in the patient’s position, if warned of the risk, would be likely to attach significance to it or if the medical practitioner is or should reasonably be aware that the particular patient, if warned of the risk, would be likely to attach significance to it.” (page 490)

“It reflects the growing community attitude that individuals are responsible for making their own decisions. It is also a warning to professionals, outside the medical profession, that an important part of their duty to their client or patient is to advise properly. In ordinary circumstances, the client or patient then has the right to decide whether to take the advice or not”.

I would like parents and caregivers to be aware, that all practitioners, whether they are mainstream or complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, must inform their patients if what they are prescribing has any risk associated with it. It is a legal requirement.

It is then up to the patient or the parent/carer of a patient to make an informed decision whether they accept or reject that particular treatment.

Remember, you have the right to ask questions, your child’s health depends on it!