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Nicola Glover-Thomas

This chapter considers the current legal position of informed consent in the UK. Recognizing and protecting the rights of individuals to be self-determining has now garnered support in all aspects of healthcare provision and its regulation. While medical paternalism has lost ground, the support of individual autonomy and the informed consent mandate may be tempered by external factors in practice, such as resource allocation, questions over mental capacity, age or a patient’s desire to have knowledge (or not) about his or her medical status. At the micro level, there is greater judicial willingness to adopt a broader interpretation of capacity in a number of areas; while at a macro level, the UK’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has presented the potential to further change the legal landscape around mental incapacity, which could directly impact on informed consent. Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015], clinicians also face a heightened level of information disclosure required of them. With patients now having a right to be fully apprised of all material risks relating to all treatment options, and the level of information sharing now being a decision for patients rather than clinicians, all healthcare workers face a much more stringent disclosure threshold.

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Edited by Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas

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Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas

This introductory chapter highlights the changing landscape in relation to the question of informed consent and the consequential impact of this on the legal frameworks in place in many parts of the world. Informational disclosure and informed consent are the focus of book one of the book series. This is a key foundational concept in health law and for many countries acts as the initial gateway to medical intervention. At the heart of contemporary medical ethics is the notion of self-determination and choice. How the concept of information disclosure and informed consent is understood and executed in different parts of the world varies widely; yet the concept of informed concept maintains some common characteristics that are shared and recognized around the world. The importance of informed consent is growing, both nationally and internationally – particularly as more patients become aware of their rights and seek to reinforce them. The countries in this book have been chosen to provide an insight across continents, representing a mix of jurisdictions: Australia, Canada (except Quebec), the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, France, China, the Nordic countries, South Africa, Germany and Russia.

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Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas

While there is a common understanding and acknowledgement of the principle of informed consent around the world, this book highlights the nuances and varied interpretations applied across the continents. It seeks to identify and reflect on these differences, to enhance our broad understanding of the ways in which this concept is interpreted and applied in practice; and highlights the global shifts that have taken place over the last 25 years in relation to how patients’ rights are recognized and protected. Indeed, the legal landscape surrounding autonomy and consent is vastly different from the familiar world of the past, in which medical paternalism dominated. There is little doubt that this landscape will continue to evolve; and that this evolution may be rapid. The hope is that this book will articulate the variety of approaches and the opportunities to learn from around the world while on this path of change.

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Informed Consent and Health

A Global Analysis

Edited by Thierry Vansweevelt and Nicola Glover-Thomas

Informed consent is the legal instrument that purports to protect an individual’s autonomy and defends against medical arbitrariness. This illuminating book investigates our evolving understanding of informed consent from a range of comparative and international perspectives, demonstrating the diversity of its interpretations around the world. Chapters offer a nuanced analysis of the problems that impede the understanding and implementation of the concept of informed consent and explore the contemporary challenges that continue to hinder both the patient and the medical community.