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February 14, 2001

Assessing Requests for Euthanasia From Terminally Ill Patients—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(6):734-735. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-285-6-jlt0214

In Reply: We agree with Dr Pochard and colleagues that requests for euthanasia and PAS are commonly associated with reversible symptoms and that these requests may be expressions of suffering rather than the final judgments of patients. We have urged physicians who receive requests for euthanasia or PAS to systematically evaluate patients' symptoms, care needs, social supports, and other aspects of their circumstances.1 However, although symptoms such as depression and hopelessness are often associated with patients' desire for euthanasia and PAS, treating these symptoms will not necessarily diffuse these desires. This is a difficult area to study empirically. One lesson from prior research is that our ability to understand or predict what motivates patients to desire euthanasia or PAS is limited and has frequently been in error.2

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