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April 15, 1992

Deciding About Death-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of Alberta (Edmonton) Medical School

JAMA. 1992;267(15):2036-2037. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480150042025

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In Reply.  —Although this was not the essence of my Editorial, Dr Boyce raises an important point about the mutual interaction of patients' and physicians' morality.Physicians must never be passive agents in dealings with patients. Requests from both patients and others that are in conflict with the physician's basic ethics should be rejected. If a physician feels that stopping life support is murder, he or she must not do so. However, such disagreement cuts both ways, so the respect for basic ethics must be mutual.The physician must respect the patient's ethics just as the patient must respect the physician's. If the physician feels that his or her ethical foundation makes it impossible to comply with a patient's request, the patient must be told so and, if he or she so wishes, be transferred to another physician whose ethics are more similar. Physicians must not violate their patients' wish,