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April 8, 1988

It's Over, Debbie

Author Affiliations

Somerset, Ohio

Somerset, Ohio

JAMA. 1988;259(14):2098. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720140018023

To the Editor.  —Too often in medicine those challenges requiring the most careful consideration occur when the fog of sleep deprivation and overwork clouds the very sense and sensibility demanded for a proper response. No other reasonable excuse can be offered to explain the fumbling, misguided motive for the homicide recounted in "It's Over, Debbie."1 Unconvincingly portrayed as a kindness, the act is patently an impulsive stab of frustration.The house officer who could so accurately "calculate" the lethality of a morphine overdose could easily concoct a comforting therapeutic dose of narcotic, supplemented by a turn holding hands at the bedside.Tales of such suffering are as old as humankind. It was for guidance in just these hardest of times that our physician forebearers honored and handed down the Hippocratic injunctions against death dealing.I ponder the prospect that in my final struggle a similar white-coated figure will cast