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May 2, 1953


Author Affiliations

2200 Cascade Ave. Colorado Springs, Colo.

JAMA. 1953;152(1):77. doi:10.1001/jama.1953.03690010083029

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To the Editor:  —The article "Advising Radical Surgery: A Problem in Medical Morality" by Father Ford and Dr. Drew (J. A. M. A. 151:711 [Feb. 28] 1953), obviously intended as a discussion rather than as a norm, contains statements and implications that add fuel to the controversy. The concepts of what is radical surgery, what are its dangers, and what is its usefulness have changed with the passing of time. The moral problems of presenting to the patient the facts concerning his condition and of helping him make the right decision remain the same today as they did yesterday. What is new is the mixing of pragmatic considerations with the already difficult medical and moral responsibility of deciding what is right. When a physician begins to consider the "social value" of his patient's life as not justifying the use of "extraordinary means" of preservation and when he proceeds to

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