The Spencer Case illustrates quite clearly the approach all doctors need to take when advising patients of the inherent risks associated with proposed treatment. Any reasonable patient in the claimant’s situation would want to know the risk of a DVT associated with a general anaesthetic, albeit small, the consequences if that risk materialises can be catastrophic.

For the claimant in this case, he would have been alert to the signs and symptoms of DVT and would have sought early medical attention, which would likely have avoided the Pulmonary Embolism.

Really, this case confirms that a common sense approach needs to be taken with respect for the patient’s right to make properly informed decisions, rather than the doctor taking a paternalistic attitude.