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March 1, 1976

Witness-to-Consent Form-Reply

Author Affiliations

AMA Office of General Counsel

JAMA. 1976;235(9):909. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260350015017

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In Reply.—  The purpose of having a witness sign a consent form, or any other document, is to assist in proving the authenticity and validity of the document if it should be questioned in a subsequent legal proceeding. For this purpose, the ideal witness is someone who has no bias in favor of, or interest in common with, any of the parties to the document and who is likely to be available at the time of the subsequent legal contest. For a consent to medical or surgical treatment by a particular physician, that physician is obviously not an ideal witness. Almost anyone else would be a better witness. This is not to say that the physician should not be the one to present a consent form to the patient and explain it to him. Also, there is no objection to the physician signing the form, but if a witness is