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January 5, 1994

Assisted Suicide: Sheer Cliff or Clinical Reality?

Author Affiliations

Jefferson Medical College Philadelphia, Pa

JAMA. 1994;271(1):23. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510250039017

To the Editor.  —Quill1 appears to be sincere in his efforts to promote a rational debate on the issue of physician-assisted death. However, his arguments are undermined by his ignoring and misrepresenting information that contradicts his views.In his discussion of the importance of proper pain management for terminally ill patients, he notes that "Experts who can provide formal or informal consultation in pain control and in palliative care are available in most major cities and extensive literature is available." He fails to cite the studies and reports that indicate that many physicians neither are aware of nor use these resources in managing the pain of terminally ill patients.2,3 In fact, the literature has demonstrated that physicians, including those directly involved in the care of patients with cancer, are often poorly trained in pain assessment and management.4 Yet Quill continues to ignore this extremely important point and

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