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There appears to be heightened concern among health care professionals about the liability implications of delivering alternative therapies, but little is know about malpractice law in this area. This article argues that when courts decide cases at the intersection between conventional and alternative medicine, they may judge conduct according to standards enunciated by (1) alternative medicine practitioners who regularly deliver the treatment at issue, (2) physicians who have established similar practices, or (3) conventional practitioners. The latter possibility raises troubling questions for physicians at the outset of the negligence inquiry. Available case law highlights the importance of ensuring that patients are fully informed about any alternative therapies they elect to receive as well as conventional treatments they may be forgoing, and that they expressly consent to treatment in light of this information--preferably in writing.

Originally published in: Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, v. 54, Fall 1999, pp. 173-176.

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