30 November 2015

Negligence case could lead to duty of care ruling breaking doctor-patient confidentiality

A women who found out she has the same degenerative neurological disease gene as her father, and that her child of five has a 50/50 chance of having inherited the disease, is suing her father's doctors for not informing her before she gave birth.

The father had failed to inform the mother, Ms M, fearing she would commit suicide or have an abortion. Ms M has now been allowed to take her case to the Court of Appeal, where judges will examine the case of doctor-patient confidentiality and consider a ruling whereby medical staff are bound by the duty of care to inform family members of transmission of serious disease. The full exercise of the this remit under the revised duty would sometimes include breaching doctor-patient confidentiality.

 Challenge the decision 

Ms M’s compensation claim was rejected by the High Court, which commented that to impose liability in the case would constitute a 'radical departure'. The judge also said that he was unwilling to take the 'giant step' of creating a new duty of care. However, Ms M's lawyers have been awarded the opportunity to challenge the decision under the argument that the High Court ruling has violated her rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Source: Scottish Legal