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October 27, 1989

AIDS, Autopsies, and Abandonment-Reply

JAMA. 1989;262(16):2233. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430160049025

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In Reply.—  We appreciate the interest shown by those who wrote concerning our work and we hereby reply. Dr Emanuel undercuts his protest that we did not employ his schema for evaluating risk: no needle-stick data support the suggestion that any physician anywhere is likely to stick oneself 5 to 10 times per year. This is not only an unverifiable assumption in the literature, it is a priori preposterous. Such a physician belongs in a different, safer profession, where the practitioners use their feet, not their hands.Dr Sarewitz takes issue with the "equal weight" of a procedure for a sick patient and a dead patient. We will not repeat our arguments about the physician-patient relationship and the low risk of contagion (which is not the same as favorable outcome of illness), but the reader is referred to them. Intuitively, we agree that an obligation that is life-saving or life-preserving