The health professional's duty to warn of preconception risks
Richard Griffith, Head of Health Law and Ethics in the School of Health and Social Care at Swansea University, looks at the law around negligence for disabilities in a child caused by a failure to warn of preconception risks
The law is clear that a nurse's duty of care includes giving advice and information about the inherent risks of a proposed action and whether any steps can be taken to minimise the risk (Sidaway v Bethlem Royal Hospital ). Failure to warn of material risks that then caused harm would result in an action for negligence (Chatterton v Gerson ).
The law underpinning this duty to warn moved away from the traditional ‘nurse knows best’ approach to a person-centred ‘prudent patient’ approach with the UK Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board . In its judgment, the UK Supreme Court held that nurses and other health professionals could no longer rely on the paternalistic Bolam Test (Bolam v Friern HMC ) as the standard for disclosing information about risks inherent in treatment. The Court found that greater importance was now attached to personal autonomy and, when asking for advice before making a decision that might have an effect on their health and wellbeing, patients were entitled to information about risks and about alternative treatment that might be available.
Register now to continue reading
Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:
Limited access to clinical or professional articles
Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content