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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2018;162:D2301.

[Who does my leg belong to after amputation?; informed consent on amputation of body parts].

[Article in Dutch]

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Universiteit Leiden, faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Leiden.


In the Netherlands, when body parts are amputated as part of a medical procedure the patient's consent is required if this body part is used for, or subjected to, medical tests. The patient's consent is, however, rarely obtained, when body parts are discarded as 'pathological waste'. This can raise concerns, as patients have good reasons and distinct rights to demand a different fate, such as a burial or cremation, for their amputated limb. This article analyses the legal status of an amputated body part. We conclude that, legally, the amputated part does not belong to the hospital or doctor and can therefore not be disposed of at whim, in accordance with the hospital's wishes. Doctors have an obligation to actively inform their patients of their property rights over the amputated limbs and of the alternatives to disposal that are available. Doctors might find themselves exposed to tortuous liability procedures if they dispose of amputated body parts without proper consent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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