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July 17, 1996

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of Washington Seattle

JAMA. 1996;276(3):196-197. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540030030020

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In Reply.  —In our study, 88% of physicians who received requests for physician-assisted death during the past year reported only receiving a single request, and 95% reported 1 or 2 requests. The remaining 5% of physicians who received 3 or more requests in the past year were not significantly more likely to provide physician-assisted death, although small numbers limit the power of this comparison. One physician did report 20 requests for physician-assisted death and described in detail a single patient who died of physician-assisted suicide. Obviously we cannot draw meaningful conclusions about this physician or others who received many requests based on a single case. Perhaps, as Dr Masdeu suggests, this physician received many requests by eliciting them from patients. We can speculate about alternative explanations: this physician may be unusually sensitive to patient concerns, may be known for expertise in end-of-life care, or may be sought out by patients who seek