• Vol. 36 No. 10, S56–S60
  • 15 October 2007

Recent Developments of Informed Consent in Eye Research

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Informed consent is a very important ethical concept in medical and research ethics. The law of informed consent in medical negligence cases has developed over the years. Today, it is impossible to ignore the legal aspects of informed consent given the new ruling in the English case of Chester v Afshar [2005]. This landmark case has made significant inroads into the development of the concept and may have great impact on all Commonwealth jurisdictions including Singapore. The court in Chester’s case considered the modern basis of medical ethics in informed consent situations. In this article, I review legal developments in informed consent, and compare these with the more recent developments in Chester’s case and the Malaysian case of Foo Fio Na [2006]. In particular, I note that Foo’s case clearly followed the approach in the Australian case of Rogers v Whitaker case. Methods: Literature review. Results: I reviewed 2 recent cases – the English Chester case and the Malaysian Foo Fio Na case (wherein the Federal Court followed the Australian court in Rogers v Whitaker which involved an ophthalmology medical negligence lawsuit). Conclusion: There is a rising global trend of relying on medical ethics principles in giving more respect to the individual patient or research human subject in the area of informed consent before they participate in clinical research studies. Following the recent legal cases on informed consent – Chester v Afshar, Foo Fio Na and Rogers v Whitaker – it has become more crucial than ever to exercise extreme care in obtaining informed consent from clinical trial subjects.


Two recent court rulings1 have underlined the global trend of relying on the principles of medical ethics of autonomy or self-determination of the individual when determining whether informed consent has been given by the relevant subject. This article discusses the importance of respecting the individual person, especially in cases where he or she is the human subject in clinical research studies. The applied ethics of giving and obtaining informed consent and the need to protect the human subject’s confidentiality are very important ethical issues given the increasing number of human clinical studies in recent years.

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