The way forward for informed consent in medicine

Forget the false dichotomy between a process that is doctor-centric and one that is patient-centric. A good consent-taking process requires patients to participate and doctors to respond to their concerns.

In March, the Ministry of Health appointed a workgroup to review the taking of informed consent and the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) disciplinary process. The group's report was published on Dec 3. I am honoured to be a member of this workgroup. After nine months of many intense meetings and discussions, the "baby" has finally been delivered in the form of the report.

As the long name of this workgroup suggests, work was focused on two areas: informed consent and the SMC disciplinary process. The workgroup made 29 recommendations, of which only three were specifically in the area of informed consent. This small number of recommendations may suggest that much of the workgroup's efforts were directed at other areas, such as the SMC disciplinary process and continuing medical education. This was hardly the case, as much of the feedback and robust discussions between the workgroup and other parties as well as within the workgroup itself were devoted to informed consent.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2019, with the headline 'The way forward for informed consent in medicine'. Print Edition | Subscribe