August 1981

The Physician in Court

Author Affiliations

Jamaica, NY

Arch Intern Med. 1981;141(9):1241-1242. doi:10.1001/archinte.1981.00340090137041

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To the Editor.  —The average, sophisticated, informed, and well-educated hospitalized patient is usually familiar with his illness, including not only its signs and symptoms but also the reason for each diagnostic test, the rationale for therapeutic measures being used, and the prognosis of the disease. Physicians today are morally obligated and legally required to obtain informed consent from their patients for diagnostic procedures and planned therapeutic interventions.Nevertheless, many an acutely ill patient admitted to the hospital is anxious and nervous, tense, and frightened of the milieu where acute medical care is being rendered. Bottles hanging from intravenous stands with "unknown" solutions entering the patient's veins, the hiss of oxygen flowing by mask or nasal catheter into the patient's lungs, the beep-beep of the monitor attached to the patient's chest, the repeated measurement of pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, and respirations, and the low murmuring of the physicians, nurses, and

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