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Life – Education

Getting informed on informed consent: a guide for medical students


Callum Phillips

University of Southampton, GB
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Summary This paper provides guidance on the law surrounding informed consent, pitched at a medical school level. It will differentiate basic consent from informed consent, examine the case law surrounding consent (in particular Montgomery), providing the facts of key cases and the significant consequences of the judgements in order to ground abstract legal principles in practical examples. It makes suggestions on how to tailor practice to ensure that an informed consent is obtained. Relevance It is apparent that an understanding of law surrounding clinical practice is highly applicable to medical students and is often a dedicated learning outcome on the syllabus. ‘Consenting a patient’ is a process that takes many times every single day and is a prominent part of any doctors’ career, from every time they take blood to perform major surgery. It is vital that students understand the laws surrounding this process and what is required of them both now and in the future. Take Home Messages The case of Montgomery legally enforces a process of enabling autonomous decision making by the patient rather than paternalistically determining the direction of management. Informed consent requires that material and relevant risks are disclosed to the patient for both the recommended and alternative treatment plans. In order to achieve this, and determine what is material for that particular patient, obtaining informed consent requires a dialogue between doctor and patient.
How to Cite: Phillips C. Getting informed on informed consent: a guide for medical students. The British Student Doctor Journal. 2021;5(1):49–53. DOI:
Published on 31 Jan 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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