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March 5, 1997

The Nuremberg Code, Informed Consent, and Involuntary Treatment

Author Affiliations

Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1997;277(9):712. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540330034025

To the Editor.  —The Editorial by Dr Grodin and Mr Annas1 is a compilation of the wrongdoings of the Nazi physicians, including the Nazi view that certain racial and ethnic groups are subhuman and then using that view as an excuse to manipulate those groups; their agreement to treat the racial "sickness" that threatened the health of German volk; and their medicalization of social and political problems. Although the authors state that "the fact that we are not Nazis does not mean we are immune from seduction by social, political, and economic organizations that seek to corrupt medicine for their own agendas," they fail to even mention the most flagrant violation of the first Nuremberg principle that exists in US medicine today: "The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential."2 The US law and organized medicine still practice involuntary intervention of the mentally ill. Nuremberg's principles