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To the Editor:—
In your Questions and Answers section (JAMA180:181 [April 14] 1962), under the question about consent for analgesia, Dr. Richard P. Bergen offers this one-sentence statement: "The patient is legally entitled to decide whether or not to receive anesthetics and to specify the type of anesthetic, if he chooses." The first part of this sentence is correct. The patient has the legal right to decide whether he or she will submit to operations and will submit to a type of anesthesia. The patient may have a preference, but the doctor must make the medical decision and so recommend. The physician, either the anesthetist or the surgeon or both, must make the medical recommendation. The patient is not qualified medically to decide. The patient is entitled to express a preference. If those responsible cannot convince the patient of the proper course, they must not let the patient
Hesseltine HC. Consent for Analgesia. JAMA. 1962;181(4):354. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050300074027