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Contempo 1998
May 20, 1998

Emerging Ethical Issues in Palliative Care

JAMA. 1998;279(19):1521-1522. doi:10.1001/jama.279.19.1521

PALLIATIVE CARE—the comprehensive, coordinated, and concentrated relief of both pain and suffering in terminally ill or incurably ill patients—has always been a moral responsibility of physicians, regardless of specialty.1-3 For several reasons this moral obligation has today become more important than ever: physicians still provide inadequate pain relief; public opinion is becoming more tolerant of assisted suicide when patients are perceived to be suffering intolerably; while denying a constitutional right to assistance in suicide, the Supreme Court has voiced unequivocal support for adequate pain relief; and palliative medicine has become an area of expertise in its own right.4-6

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