The main argument in the case against cardiologist Leslie Lam was about the sufficiency of the informed consent process (Doc cleared of all allegations of professional misconduct; Oct 21).
The court mentioned that doctors have an obligation to ensure that the patient is aware of the benefits and risks of a procedure, as well as any alternatives.
Perhaps the Singapore Medical Council and Ministry of Health could provide a standard consent form for each of the 100 most commonly performed procedures.
Each form would be procedure specific and lay down all the common or serious adverse effects, potential complications, and alternatives for the procedure.
One or more witnesses may be required to be present and counter-sign. An official cooling-off period could be imposed on patients before they sign the form. Audio or video recording of the consent process can also be considered.
Such rigid and formal processes would help ensure patients are given all the information they need for a procedure.
They may also help reduce the number of expensive court cases on the issue of informed consent.
Desmond Wai (Dr)