Informed Consent, Autonomy, and the Law

Philosophy Research Archives 10:249-259 (1984)
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Abstract

Informed consent to therapy is the legal doctrine which imposes on a physician the duty to explain the nature and risks of a proposed treatment so the patient can make an informed decision whether to undergo the treatment. The doctrine has spawned tremendous controversy in the legal and medical professions.In this paper I examine the doctrine of informed consent as developed by the courts. The thrust of my criticism is that as the doctrine has been developed, it significantly undercuts individual autonomy. Several modifications are suggested which would provide more support for autonomy interests.

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