[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 25, 1986

Withholding or Withdrawing Treatment-Reply

Author Affiliations

Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1986;256(4):471. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380040043015

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In Reply.—  The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (formerly the Judicial Council) provides opinions on various ethical issues in an effort to provide guidance to the medical profession and to the public. Reflecting its long-standing concern with providing guidance on the ethical issues surrounding the care of the dying patient, the Council recently issued the following opinion, which clarifies the Council's previously published opinion on terminal illness.Withholding or Withdrawing Life-Prolonging Medical TreatmentThe social commitment of the physician is to sustain life and relieve suffering. Where the performance of one duty conflicts with the other, the choice of the patient, or his family or legal representative if the patient is incompetent to act in his own behalf, should prevail. In the absence of the patient's choice or an authorized proxy, the physician must act in the best interest of the patient.For humane reasons, with informed consent, a