From the Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC.
Edited by Ronna Henry Siegel, MD, JAMA Fishbein Fellow.
PALLIATIVE CARE—the comprehensive, coordinated, and concentrated
relief of both pain and suffering in terminally ill or incurably ill patients—has
always been a moral responsibility of physicians, regardless of specialty.1- 3 For several reasons
this moral obligation has today become more important than ever: physicians
still provide inadequate pain relief; public opinion is becoming more tolerant
of assisted suicide when patients are perceived to be suffering intolerably;
while denying a constitutional right to assistance in suicide, the Supreme
Court has voiced unequivocal support for adequate pain relief; and palliative
medicine has become an area of expertise in its own right.4- 6
Pellegrino ED. Emerging Ethical Issues in Palliative Care. JAMA. 1998;279(19):1521-1522. doi:10.1001/jama.279.19.1521