It is over 40 years since the principle of informed consent was accepted in the USA and it has been long established in other common law jurisdictions. But for decades English law has been constrained by the Sidaway case, which effectively perpetuated a form of medical paternalism. Nevertheless, a patient-centred approach can be traced to one of the judgments in that case, and in the case of Montgomery the Supreme Court has now adopted an approach to consent which is based on self-determination and autonomy and is more closely aligned to professional practice. It calls for a dialogue between doctor and patient, recognition of the patient's right to make a choice and recognition by the doctor of their duty to provide the comprehensible information necessary for the patient to exercise choice, having regard to what a prudent patient, in that patient's circumstances and with that patient's characteristics, would want to know.
• Understand how the principle of informed consent has emerged in UK law
• Understand the principle of informed consent
• Know how to apply the principle of informed consent to the practice of psychiatry
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