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Books, Journals, New Media
January 8, 2003

Death and Dying

Author Affiliations
 

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor; adviser for new media, Robert Hogan, MD, San Diego.

JAMA. 2003;289(2):235-236. doi:10.1001/jama.289.2.235

Death must be distinguished from dying with which it is often confused .—Sidney Smith

Perhaps one of the hallmarks of 20th-century medicine is the duality of successful technological achievements and philosophic attempts to address the dilemma of death. It is often observed that physicians view death as the enemy and that we are inevitably drawn into a losing battle. We "fail" if a patient dies. But death is as unavoidable as it is ubiquitous. It is imperative for physicians to understand the complexities surrounding death, including conflictual issues, such as paternalism vs autonomy, and emotions of fear or anger, and to realize that societal forces and personal feelings will eventually intrude.

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