Somehow, as a kid growing up in a nonreligious family, I developed a very strong sense of right and wrong, of what ethical and moral behavior should be. I have tried to follow this tenet throughout my life. When I became involved with medicine, I took to heart all the maxims we were taught, particularly “First, do no harm.” But for many years now I have realized that this concept is wrong, dead wrong.
I believe that our first duty as physicians is to relieve pain and suffering, whether it be physical or emotional. Only then, secondarily, are we to avoid harming the patient. I say this because, as a neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist, I spent a great part of my practice causing pain and suffering in my patients, on purpose.
Rowe MJ. Beliefs. JAMA. 2015;314(9):877–878. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.2146
Best of JAMA Network 2022
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.