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January 26, 1994

Dying and Death in Law and Medicine: A Forensic Primer for Health and Legal Professionals

Author Affiliations

Kansas City, Mo

JAMA. 1994;271(4):324. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510280092049

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


Most of us—1.25 million each year— die in hospitals. Despite the medical setting, the problems surrounding the process of dying and death are often legal. The dying process, for example, involves issues of personal autonomy and informed consent. The determination of death is usually defined by statute. The disposition of dead bodies and valuable organs is likewise governed by specific laws. Even the rare doctor who is able to avoid death issues in professional practice will ultimately have to confront them in personal life. Thoughtfulness toward one's survivors requires us to at least make our wishes clear before we die or become legally incompetent. This book explains living wills and durable power of attorney and their limitations.

The author of this excellent resource is director of the International Institute for the Study of Death and several other foundations and committees related to the ethical, legal, and medical problems at the

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