Doctors did not breach duty by not disclosing father’s Huntington’s diagnosis


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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A woman who sued three NHS trusts for negligence for not telling her that her father had Huntington’s disease has lost her case in the High Court, according to a report in the BMJ.

The woman, referred to as ABC, claimed that she would have undergone a termination had doctors caring for her father told her that he had the disease and that she had a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the gene.

The Court ruled that the two trusts involved in her father’s care had no duty of care to her as she was a third party. Although she was participating in family therapy at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, Mrs Justice Amanda Yip concluded that doctors there had not breached the duty. Furthermore, the judge said ABC had failed to prove that she would have had the termination had she known of her father’s diagnosis.

Her father’s likely diagnosis of Huntington’s disease emerged in July 2009. He agreed to be testing for the condition but with the caveat that the results were not shared with family members. His positive results were reported on 9 November 2009. It was agreed that the last date on which ABC could have undergone a termination was 6 December. Her baby was born in April 2010. ABC was not tested until 2013, at which point she was found to have the gene for Huntington’s disease.

Mrs Justice Yip concluded that “the decision not to disclose was supported by a responsible body of medical opinion” and did not amount to a breach of duty, the BMJ reports.