[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
October 23, 1967

Extreme Measures to Prolong Life

JAMA. 1967;202(4):374-376. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130170174049

One of the clinical dilemmas I have encountered concerns the care of the terminally ill patient. Not infrequently life can be prolonged only by extraordinary therapeutic measures. Is it the physician's duty to preserve a patient's life simply because it is scientifically possible to do so? I do not refer to use of a drug or other treatment to hasten death but rather to withholding strenuous and possibly costly therapy in instances of incurable disease. Should the professed wish of the relatives play a dominant role in this situation?