Does the Rising Use of CAM and Holistic Medicine Impact the Legal Rules on Informed Consent?

Given the relative failure of allopathic medicine, Americans are turning more and more to holistic and alternative forms of advanced therapies to treat everything from the common cold to depression, auto-immune diseases and cancer. This societal trend feeds customary praxis, thereby impacting the informed consent rules.

To date, there has been few research studies on the physician’s comfort levels and attitudes toward discussing CAM, most allopathic medical doctors still appear to be hostile against any competitive alternative medical system that reduces their cash-flow and questions their medical training. Supporting this piece of allegation, a study of 751 physicians showed that more than 50% of physicians in Denver, Colorado, did not have a positive attitude about CAM when talking to their patients and were not comfortable during the discussion (1).

TO SECURE INFORMED CONSENT, SCIENCE-BASED CAM AND HOLISTIC MEDICINE SHOULD BE INVOKED

With the increasing use of CAM and holistic medicine and the evidence that this medicine tends to be clinically superior to symptomatic allopathic medicine, both conventional and holistic physicians need to consider what implications the above has for their patients when obtaining informed consent for a new treatment or procedure.

Today’s well-established foundation of informed consent for medical treatment dates to the late 1700s, when a British court held that “it is reasonable that a patient be told what is about to be done to him, that he may take courage and put himself in such a situation as to enable him to undergo the operation.” In this context, physicians know that where customary and approved practice is being applied, the duty includes disclosure to warn a patient of (1) the material hazards, (2) possible complications expected, (3) unexpected risks of the proposed intervention, (4) its reasonable alternatives and the risks and comparative benefits of each, and, in most cases, (5) the effects of nontreatment. (5).

TO READ THE FULL TEXT, PLEASE SEE THE HOLISTIC JUSTICE SITE

References

(1) Journal of Psychosoc Oncol. 2005;23(4):35-60.

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