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August 11, 1997

Practical Legal Comments on Informed Consent-Reply

Author Affiliations

Pittsburgh, Pa

Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(15):1769. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440360208025

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While Cook's advice—namely, that getting a consent form signed, and preferably having it state that any medical treatment might lead to death, is insurance against a lawsuit for lack of informed consent—may work in Tennessee, in some states consent forms are hardly worth the paper on which they are written. But even if liability could be avoided everywhere simply by getting a consent form signed, Cook's letter represents just the kind of hyperlegal thinking that our article on informed consent suggested that physicians avoid. Consent forms are, sadly, a part of medical practice that is not about to go away. However, a consent form should not be a substitute for a conversation with patients.

Our approach to informed consent coincides with Cook's in that giving advice to physicians will help them avoid losing a lawsuit. However, our advice goes beyond this narrow aim. Our remarks are intended to help physicians

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