Modern Ethics and Legal Precedents


For example where a doctor fails to recognize symptoms of a well known illness.

In the instance of a doctor failing to take action due to underestimation
of the urgency of a set of presenting symptoms.

Informed consent

The doctor’s duty to fully inform the patient about all the benefits weighed against all the risks of a particular treatment.


The patient’s rightful expectation that all doctor-patient discussions regarding their case will remain in confidence. This understanding is necessary to foster patient trust.

The legal circumstances where confidentiality should be overridden.

Decisions Taken In Advance

Patients can take decisions about their care should unfortunate health circumstances befall them and they can lay out a set of requests about their future care, while their mental capacity is not in question. These advance requests, however, are not legally binding.

If a patient refuses certain care initiatives in advance, this choice is legally binding.

Mental Capacity

A patient’s mental capacity must be in fully functional mode,
to give the patient the right to make an informed decision, regarding their treatment going forward. It is expected the patient will make choices in their own best interests.

However, should the patient make a choice that is unexpected and seen as not in their own best interests, they would only have that right provided they had the full mental capacity to make that decision.