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February 23, 1957


JAMA. 1957;163(8):660-661. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.82970430010019b

What are the legal obligations and liabilities of a physician when a patient, in anticipation of medical or surgical treatment, demands that he not be given a blood transfusion? In effect, the physician, trained and skilled in the science of medicine, is asked to ignore his best medical judgment and accede to the wish or demand of the patient.

In elective procedures where no emergency exists and when the patient is an adult in possession of his faculties, the patient would usually have the lawful right to impose this condition. The physician, in turn, in these circumstances, could elect to accept or refuse the patient for care and treatment. Should the condition be imposed after the physician-patient relationship is established, the physician may lawfully withdraw from the case, providing he advises the patient of his intention to do so and affords the patient an opportunity to obtain the services of