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January 4, 1936


Author Affiliations

Director, Bureau of Legal Medicine and Legislation, American Medical Association CHICAGO

JAMA. 1936;106(1):33-40. doi:10.1001/jama.1936.92770010003010

A physical examination of a patient cannot be made or an operation done, lawfully, without authority. Authority is necessary, too, before a physician can lawfully apply to a patient any prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic agent, such as a vaccine, a splint, roentgen rays, or an anesthetic or any other drug. A person who does any of these acts without authority commits a battery or a trepass, or both, for which, according to the circumstances of the case, he may be fined or imprisoned or made to pay damages.1 Even after the death of a patient his right to freedom from interference automatically passes in a modified form to his spouse or to his next of kin, and any unauthorized interference with his dead body exposes the offender to a suit for damages by the person entitled to its custody.2 My purpose in this paper is to

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