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What is adequate information?

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Dr KK Aggarwal and Ms Ira Gupta    20 April 2018

For the patients to play a significant role in decision-making they must have adequate information. In the Samira Kohli vs. Dr. Prabha Manchanda and Ors. I (2008) CPJ 56 (SC), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India observed:

“32. ii: The ‘adequate information’ to be furnished by the doctor (or a member of his team) who treats the patient, should enable the patient to make a balanced judgment as to whether he should submit himself to the particular treatment as to whether he should submit himself to the particular treatment or not. This means that the Doctor should disclose (a) Nature and procedure of the treatment and its purpose, benefits and effect; (b) alternatives if any available; (c) an outline of the substantial risks and (d) adverse consequences of refusing treatment. But, there is no need to explain remote or theoretical risks involved, which may frighten or confuse a patient and result in refusal of consent for the necessary treatment. Similarly, there is no need to explain the remote or theoretical risks of refusal to take treatment, which may persuade a patient to undergo a fanciful or unnecessary treatment. A balance should be achieved between the need for disclosing necessary and adequate information and at the same time avoid the possibility of the patient being deterred from agreeing to a necessary treatment or offering to undergo an unnecessary treatment.”

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