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March 10, 1999

Oncologists' Practice of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;281(10):897-899. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-10-jac90000

To the Editor: Dr Emanuel and colleagues1 reported the populations and practices involved in PAS and euthanasia combined, rather than separately, as in Meier et al.2 Perhaps the authors could share at least the key variables as split. If their findings mimic those of Meier et al,2 patients who have "euthanasia" will be very close to death, incompetent, and suffering substantially. In contrast, those with physician assistance in suicide will have at least some days or weeks left, will be competent, and will be fearful of suffering and loss of control. The "safeguards" that might be appropriate—and even the language to talk about them—may well be quite different in the 2 populations.