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The concept of individual autonomy, the right of an individual to make decisions about one’s life and medical care, is the basic principle underlying patients’ rights. In the United States this principle was articulated as early as 1914 by Justice Cardozo in a landmark decision: "Every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body." The doctrine of informed consent has since evolved to guide medical decision-making by:
Setting boundaries for the physician-patient relationship,
Further defining the health care institution’s obligation to patients
Serving as the basis for various patient protection laws
The principle of informed consent requires a physician to provide information about a patient’s medical condition and treatment options enabling the patient to make an informed decision as to whether or not to consent to a proposed test or procedure. The physician must consider disclosure of a variety of factors including: