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Comment & Response
September 6, 2016

Informed Consent and the Reasonable-Patient Standard

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2Department of Plastic Surgery, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
JAMA. 2016;316(9):993. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.10558

To the Editor In their Viewpoint, Dr Spatz and colleagues1 advocated a paradigm shift, proposing that the risks, benefits, and alternatives of medical treatments should be based on a reasonable-patient standard, rather than what a responsible body of physicians deems important. Although we agree that patient-centered communication can improve informed consent, we do not believe that a reasonable-patient standard can be defined. We object to the term “standard” because it denotes a fixed, normative reference point. Instead, each patient and medical decision is unique, based on the specific clinical and sociocultural context.

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