The decision whether or not to undergo medical treatment is usually that of the patient. In order to make such a decision the patient needs information about the risks and benefits of any proposed course of treatment. The High Court of Australia has said that the patient must be informed about material risks. It has said that material risks are those risks to which a reasonable person in the patient's position or that particular patient would attach some significance. Therefore in deciding which risks to disclose to the patient the doctor must attempt (as much as is practicable) to view the procedure from a patient's perspective. Necessarily this must be an individual judgement based on what is reasonably known about the person before them. This judgement must be made within the particular circumstances of the consultation.


  1. Rosenberg v. Percival [2001] HCA 18, at [214] per Callinan J.
  2. Rosenberg v. Percival [2001] HCA 18, at [149].
  3. Rosenberg v. Percival [2001] HCA 18, at [16] per Gleeson CJ. (It should be noted however that the Chief Justice’s main concern was about causation - would Dr Percival have gone ahead with the treatment if she had been warned about the risks.)