Publication date: Mar 01, 2020
Doctors treating individuals with serious ailments owe a legal duty of care not just to their patients but to third parties associated with the people they are treating.
That is the key implication of a high court ruling last week in the case of a woman who had sued doctors because they failed to tell her about her father’s fatal hereditary disease, Huntington’s, before she had her own child.
ABC’s father was convicted of manslaughter after shooting his wife but was found later, by doctors at St George’s Hospital in south London, to have Huntington’s.
The case was struck out but this decision was overturned by the court of appeal in 2018 and the case of ABC versus St George’s Healthcare Trust was heard late last year with judgment being announced last week.
-We lost the case but a legal precedent has been established – that care and balance has to be taken when considering a third-party’s right to know information which might reveal a serious risk to them.