Dangerous Patients and Duties to Warn: A European Human Rights Perspective
The recent case of David Bradley, who shot and killed four members of his family after telling his doctor he ‘wanted to kill someone’, has raised the question of whether a healthcare professional could ever be held liable for failing to take steps to constrain a potentially dangerous patient. Until recently, it was considered that the United Kingdom courts would be reluctant to impose a duty to protect third parties. However, the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in Osman v UK — while not directly concerning healthcare professionals — has opened the door for just such a duty. When this duty will arise, and how it can be discharged, remain challenging questions. Furthermore, healthcare professionals face the unenviable task of balancing competing duties, in which the rights — and safety — of their patients must also be borne in mind.
Keywords: Confidentiality; Dangerous Patients; Osman; Tarasoff; Human Rights
Research Type: Journal Article