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Dr Dempsey is correct in assuming that "control" is not synonymous with "normal." The control group is used to compare the occurrence of risk factors in the suicide cases with that in physicians who died of causes other than suicide. Further, controls were not randomly selected; they were physicians who died between 1980 and 1984, matched by age and sex to those in the suicide group. Clearly, one cannot make inferences to the entire physician population.Dr Day's concern about the role of malpractice in physician suicide, especially among anesthesiologists, cannot be answered with data collected from this study. Both the number of malpractice suits and the number of anesthesiologists were too small to conduct meaningful analysis.
Hendee WR. Physician Suicide-Reply. JAMA. 1987;258(12):1607. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400120057018