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October 4, 1985

In a Dark Time... Is There a Doctor in the House?

JAMA. 1985;254(13):1797. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360130133046

Professional medicine has enough problems on its hands without taking on the threat of nuclear war. Besides, that's a job for politicians and nuclear experts. You have a vote as a citizen, use it. Things seem stable enough anyway. The role of the physician in nuclear war prevention, if any, should be to educate people about the medical consequences of nuclear war, and nothing else. Medicine and politics shouldn't mix!

Over the past several years, I have logged observations like these with impatience. Granted, theincidence of nuclear war has been low since 1945. But the incidence of suicide is low in the suicidal person—until it happens, and then it's too late. The consequences of a nuclear catastrophe would be tragic and irreversible on a scale so large it boggles the mind. The threat of nuclear catastrophe presents to the medical profession the kind of challenge for which political neutrality is