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Contempo 1998
May 20, 1998

Emerging Ethical Issues in Palliative Care

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC.


Edited by Ronna Henry Siegel, MD, JAMA Fishbein Fellow.

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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