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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 report that a "minority of oncologists experience substantial problems from their actions. In almost a quarter of cases, physicians regretted performing euthanasia or PAS after the incident and in almost 1 in 6 cases, physicians experienced emotional distress." Perhaps the authors have personal philosophies preventing reporting the obvious—more than 75% of the respondents did not regret helping a patient die, and more than 83% experienced no emotional distress. It was admitted that "the majority of oncologists would perform euthanasia and PAS again in a similar case and received comfort from having helped a patient." Having assisted numerous terminally ill patients, many with cancer, to hasten death, I can agree with that latter statement.