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November 25, 1974

Informed Consent for Thyroid Surgery

Author Affiliations

Southfield, Mich

JAMA. 1974;230(8):1127. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240080017012

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To the Editor.—  The provocative article on informed consent by Mills (229:305, 1974) opens the door to a number of interesting considerations. To a thyroidologist, Mills's statement that there might be a legal obligation to inform hyperthyroid patients of alternatives to thyroidectomy suggests an interesting scenario.A patient undergoes a successful and uncomplicated thyroidectomy for hyperthyroidism without having been informed of the availability of radioactive iodine, or after having been advised against radioactive iodine for spurious reasons. The patient later learns the facts about radioactive iodine.Can the patient sue the surgeon for pain, suffering, the surgical scar, and loss of time from work while hospitalized?Can the patient (or his insurance carrier) sue the surgeon for the additional expenses generated by what might have been an unnecessary hospitalization?To thoughtful physicians and to imaginative attorneys (perhaps idled by no-fault auto insurance laws) the doctrine of informed consent may have