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History and Philosophy of Surgical Informed Consent in Children

Pranit N. Chotai, R. Shane Tubbs, Eunice Y. Huang


In current patient-centered clinical practice, obtaining a valid informed consent is legally mandatory and ethically vital. Although many may consider this a notion of modern medicine, the concept of informed consent has been mentioned as early as in the Hippocrates’ era. The doctrine of informed consent has a robust theoretical foundation; however, implementing these standards in day-to-day clinical practice is sometimes challenging and may not always be possible. Obtaining surgical informed consent in the pediatric patient faces a unique set of challenges as the consent is sought not from the patient but from surrogates who are presumed to be acting in the best interest of the child. The evolution of the informed consent concept has greatly influenced present day informed consent practice. Revisiting the relevant intricacies of the historical and philosophical aspects of the origin and evolution of this doctrine with a focus on surgical informed consent in children may help us better understand how to successfully navigate the challenges of obtaining informed consent in this vulnerable population. 

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