Doctors do not need [sic] to lay out and get the consent of a patient for every side effect or complication [sic] of a drug or treatment, Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min said in Parliament on Monday (Feb 11).
Dr Lam was responding to questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) about the case of orthopaedic surgeon Dr Lim Lian Arn, who was recently given the maximum fine of S$100,000 for failing to obtain informed consent from his patient before giving her an injection.
MPs had asked if it was now mandatory for a doctor to get the consent of a patient for every possible side effect and complication [sic], and whether this would lead to doctors practising ”defensive medicine”.
They also asked about the definition of the material information doctors are required to disclose to their patients. Sic]
“It is wrong to infer that the decision (of the disciplinary tribunal) makes it mandatory for a doctor to lay out and get the consent of a patient for every possible side effect and potential complications of a drug or treatment,” Dr Lam said.
In the case of the orthopaedic surgeon, it was not that sufficient information was not given [sic], it was that Dr Lim had failed to inform his patient of any side effects. [sic]
Under the guidelines, doctors are to disclose relevant and material information to their patients, while remote risks with minor consequences will generally be deemed immaterial and need not be disclosed, said Dr Lam.
”What a doctor needs to inform a patient about prior to a treatment or procedure continues to depend on the specific facts of the case, including the particular circumstances of the patient.
”However, what is considered material information was not the issue before the DT (disciplinary tribunal) in Dr Lim’s case, and the DT did not apply the modified Montgomery Test as Dr Lim conceded that he had not informed the patient of any risks or complications at all,” said Dr Lam.
The Montgomery Test refers to a legal test to determine whether a doctor was negligent in advising the patient.