It is no longer disputed that the physician has a duty to inform his patient of the nature of the treatment proposed by the physician and the risks involved in that treatment. Because of this required disclosure the patient is better able to "determine what shall be done with his own body" by making an informed decision whether or not to undergo treatment. Yet, both the law and medicine are far from the "last say" concerning certain particularly difficult problems which arise within the scope of the physician's communication to the patient and the patient's assent to treatment. In this process of communication and assent, which is commonly referred to as informed consent, serious abuses of the physician-patient fiduciary relationship can result if the physician knowingly withholds information from the patient, or, for some reason, if the patient's consent remains uninformed despite his receiving seemingly adequate information from the physician. For medico-legal and practical reasons there has been a tendency to avoid developing narrow or rigid rules for deciding issues involving informed consent. Nonetheless, most aspects of informed consent have been given ample consideration, and broad principles have evolved relating to the extent of the physician's duty and the content of his disclosure.
Arthur J. Shartsis,
Informed Consent: Some Problems Revisited,
51 Neb. L. Rev. 527
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