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April 4, 1977

Death, Dying, and the Biological Revolution: Our Last Quest for Responsibility

JAMA. 1977;237(14):1495-1496. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270410095041

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In this volume Veatch has presented a well-knit review of the recent developments in the ethical and legal aspects surrounding the care of the dying person. He includes such topics as the definitions of death, lifeprolonging care of the moribund, the patient's rights to refuse treatment and to be informed of a fatal illness, and the medical uses of bodily parts. The book turns heavily (and somewhat repetitiously) on the various legal judgments derived from test cases in the different areas during the past two decades. The author perceives the subject as essentially a matter of law and makes a number of specific recommendations for legislation. He proposes, for example, a statutory definition of death (p 76) and a draft bill to permit refusal of medical treatment (p 199). As a readable compendium of these recent legal decisions pertaining to medical ethics in these areas, the book is extremely useful.