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January 20, 1999

Responding to Patient Requests for Physician-Assisted Suicide

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.Winker, MDIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorsIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(3):227-229. doi:10.1001/jama.281.3.227

To the Editor: While I admire Dr Emanuel's1 intent to synthesize an emerging literature about how to respond to requests for physician-assisted suicide (PAS), it is hard to imagine showing that algorithm to a patient and saying, "Here's what we're going to do." I think many patients would conclude that they were being forced into dropping their request, in a linear process that terminates at "no." Although I have mixed feelings about PAS, I think that physicians evaluating requests need to create an encounter in which meaningful dialogue can occur. The clinical approach must be open-minded and practical.