Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor
In Reply: We are heartened to hear that physicians
like Dr Gloth are not deterred from providing aggressive palliative care by
the prospect of misguided criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, not all physicians
share this attitude. We frequently find physicians who exaggerate their risks
of legal liability for end-of-life practices, even when the practices are
clearly permitted by law. Legal concerns about the withdrawal of life-sustaining
medical treatment are an important example. The unfortunate reality is that
physicians greatly overestimate the possibility of legal repercussions. When
criminal prosecutions carry the possibility of sentences up to life imprisonment,
as is the case with PRPA, it is not surprising that physicians would be especially
reluctant to take their chances with the law.
Orentlicher D, Caplan A. Legislation and End-of-Life Care—Reply. JAMA. 2000;283(22):2933. doi:10.1001/jama.283.22.2931
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