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January 20, 1975

Dying Is Worked to Death

JAMA. 1975;231(3):246. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240150010005

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To the Editor.—  Dr. Samuel Vaisrub's editorial "Dying is Worked to Death" (229:1909-1910, 1974) appears to me to be a perpetuation of an unfortunate attitude in medicine toward the subject of death. Though he admits of the possibility that we, as physicians, may be guilty of some neglect of the dying patient, because of our own feelings of frustration and helplessness, he believes the subject has been overpublicized in a too rapidly proliferating literature. I could not more strongly disagree with this idea.In order not to be sidetracked into offering beguiling, yet speculative explanations as to why people have become more interested in the subject of death, I will limit my comments to some pertinent observations I have made as a psychiatric consultant to a coronary care unit. Needless to say, in such a setting, the spectre of death hovers as a constant companion both to the patients and to