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Why it’s Vital Patients Know Their Rights – Consent Principles Explained

By Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

A widely-respected military surgeon is to face legal action, having apologised for carrying out unsanctioned surgery on a child’s genitals.

medical negligence claims

Surgeon Commander Anthony Lambert OBE has been labelled “not trustworthy” by the 12-year-old boy’s “furious” parents after he carried out a procedure to “free adhesions” on the youngster’s genitals during a hernia operation.

Cdr Lambert had previously asked the patient and his parents for permission to examine a minor problem in the boy’s genitals during a preoperative consultation but they had refused, according to the Telegraph.

However, during the subsequent hernia operation, he not only conducted the examination but then carried out the procedure.

The surgeon and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust have since written to apologise to the family, admitting the operation should not have taken place.

Consent must be given voluntarily by a person who is appropriately informed. This can be either the patient themselves or a person with parental responsibility if the patient is under the age of 18-years-old.

Regardless of the surgeon’s intentions, laws have been flouted as patients are offered protection when it comes to their medical care.

So what can prospective patients do to ensure there are no post-surgery surprises?

 

Know Your Rights

In the UK and under the European Convention on Human Rights, the principle of ‘self-determination’ is protected. In medical terms this means quite simply that any invasive treatment given by a doctor is unlawful unless done with the consent of the patient. If consent is not obtained, such treatment can be considered battery, which is a criminal act.

Consent must be given voluntarily by a person who is appropriately informed. This can be either the patient themselves or a person with parental responsibility if the patient is under the age of 18-years-old.

 

Make Sure You’re Well Informed

Doctors have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of any material risks involved in the recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative treatments available to them. If those risks vary depending on the circumstances of the patient being treated, this should be taken into account and explained.

 

If a patient is not given proper advice about the risks and alternatives and undergoes recommended surgery in which they are injured, they will likely have a civil claim for damages if it can be shown that they would have undergone a different course of treatment if they had been fully informed of their options.

These legal principles prevent patients from feeling disenfranchised with their own treatment. Their doctor must explain the full range of appropriate treatment options available and the risks associated with each so that the patient may decide themselves what the best option is for them. 

 

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence compensation claim call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we will call you.

Marianne Walker is a clinical negligence solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

Clinical / Medical Negligence, Medical Negligence Claims

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