Letters to the Editor

Question of Consent for Image Used in ‘Photo Quiz’


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Mar 15;69(6):1362.

to the editor: I was taken aback when reading the Photo Quiz in the July 1, 2003 issue of American Family Physician,1 which featured a full-frontal nude picture of a 17-year-old woman with Prader-Willi syndrome. Several things about this bothered me, including referring to her as a “girl” (had she been male, would the reference have been to a 17-year-old boy?), describing her as “mentally retarded,” and picturing her entirely naked. Certainly, there is a place for photography such as this in the medical literature. However, in this instance, I was concerned about how a young woman with significant disabilities could have reasonably given consent for such a photograph.


1. Baumgart DC, Gerl H. Obesity and daytime sleepiness. [Photo Quiz]. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68:151–2.

editor's note: For questions of terminology, American Family Physician policy is to follow the standards of the American Medical Association Manual of Style: a Guide for Authors and Editors. According to the AMA Manual of Style, this person should have been described as a “teenager” or an “adolescent girl.”

Written consent was obtained from the patient's guardian for use of the photograph.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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