May 28, 2019 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Teaching Room 01, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

with Craig Purshouse

Talk Title: ‘Critical Reflections on the ‘Reasonable Patient’


Abstract: A doctor will breach their duty of care to a patient if they fail to warn them about the material risks in, and reasonable alternatives to, proposed treatment. In the United Kingdom, the decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11 developed the law so that a doctor’s standard of care is now assessed from the perspective of the reasonable (or particular) patient as opposed to that of the reasonable doctor. This case is widely regarded as one of the most important tort cases in recent decades and the change in approach has been warmly received in academic circles as a victory for patient rights. This paper will draw upon research about judicial politics and diversity to critically reflect upon how the ‘reasonable patient’ has been characterised by judges. It will argue that, although there were problems with the reasonable doctor standard, the reasonable patient standard has a number of shortcomings that have been overlooked (e.g. allows greater scope for judicial politics to intrude into the characterisation of the ‘reasonable patient’). This could have negative consequences for health care practice and the coherence of negligence law.

Speaker’s Short Bio

Dr Craig Purshouse is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds. His research interests are in torts law and medical law. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Law Review and his research has been cited by the Court of Appeal of Singapore and the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Respondent: TBC

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Human health is essential for the enjoyment and maximisation of almost all human activities. As our health futures rapidly evolve alongside great medical, scientific, and technological advancement, we are faced with the obligation to both protect patients and promote ethical research. How to successfully navigate these interconnected and complex relationships is a challenge not yet met. The Mason Institute is at the forefront of research into the protection and promotion of human health. The MI Lunch Series reaches across the boundaries of discipline and institution to directly engage with crucial human health actors – researchers, practitioners, policymakers, patients, and the public – to exploit on-going research and explore this challenge.
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MI Lunch Seminar with Craig Purshouse