Your Authoritative Source on Singapore Law

Medical Negligence and Patient Autonomy – Bolam Rules in Singapore and Malaysia: Revisited

Kumaralingam Amirthalingam

(2015) 27 SAcLJ 666

The classic Bolam test for medical negligence, controversial for its doctor centric approach, has long been under attack when applied to a particular aspect of the doctor’s duty, namely the duty to inform. Leading common law jurisdictions around the world, moved by considerations of patient autonomy, have abandoned or modified the Bolam test. The UK, in a recent landmark decision, departed from its earlier jurisprudence applying Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 582 to the duty to inform. However, Singapore continues to apply the Bolam test. This article argues that in light of the recent UK decision rejecting its earlier authority, which underpinned Singapore’s approach to the duty to inform, the time may be ripe for Singapore to reconsider its position on the continued relevance of Bolam to the duty to inform, and perhaps more generally in medical negligence cases.