• Vol. 46 No. 9
  • 15 September 2017

From Bolam-Bolitho to Modified-Montgomery – A Paradigm Shift in the Legal Standard of Determining Medical Negligence in Singapore

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ABSTRACT

In a recent landmark litigation, the Singapore Court of Appeal introduced a new legal standard for determining medical negligence with regards to information disclosure – the Modified-Montgomery test. This new test fundamentally shifts the legal position concerning the standard of care expected of a doctor when he dispenses medical advice. Previously, a doctor is expected to disclose what a “reasonable physician” would tell his patient. Now, a doctor must disclose “all material risks” that a “reasonable patient” would want to know under his unique circumstances. Patient-centred communication is no longer an aspirational ideal but has become a legal mandate. Manpower, administrative, logistic and medical educational reforms should start now, so as to support the average physician transit from the era of the Bolam-Bolitho, to that of the Modified-Montgomery.


A new legal standard has just been passed in the Singapore Court of Appeal, to determine medical negligence with regard to the provision of medical advice. All practising physicians must be aware of this landmark decision arising from a local litigation.

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