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May 7, 1982

Informed Consent

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

JAMA. 1982;247(17):2370-2371. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320420026018

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To the Editor.—  In the article "What We Do and Do Not Know About Informed Consent" (1981;246:2473), Alan Meisel, JD, and Loren Roth, MD, MPH, have performed an important service in criticizing the existing empirical literature on informed consent as limited and flawed. Their article and substantial bibliography are, however, troublesome as well as thought-provoking and helpful.The article is troublesome for two main reasons. First, their question whether informed consent is feasible is a secondary not primary question. The primary question is what moral and ethical value is placed on freedom by the medical profession that is responsible by custom, law, and regulation for administering informed consent. The moral value of freedom is at issue. The primary controversy is over whose choice is best and, therefore, ought to prevail. If the physician's choice is judged best for the patient (because, as is usually argued, it is supported by scientific