• Vol. 41 No. 11, 540–548
  • 15 November 2012

5th Chao Tze Cheng Memorial Lecture—Recent Developments in Informed Consent

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The question of informed consent is a concern of recent origin and has engaged the mind of the medical profession here for only some 5 decades now. The term ‘informed consent’ is very much of American origin and the British have termed it as ‘a duty to warn’. This concern arose due in no small part to the shift in perception, i.e. from the idea of doctor knows best to that of the patient must be left to decide for himself. A great deal has already been written on, as well as discussed about, the subject. But the fact of the matter is that the law on the subject is still evolving. Indeed, so long as doctors cannot guarantee a cure, or that a procedure to be undertaken will be successful, the issue will remain with us and will naturally be canvassed from time to time. Fortunately, today the successful outcome of a procedure is more the norm rather than the exception. I chose to speak on this subject precisely because I think that it is still very much an issue close to the heart of all doctors. Every doctor would like to do right. We have heard of defensive medicine. The question really is: will we in Singapore, in time, witness the emergence of, if I may coin a term, “defensive advice”?

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