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December 2, 1899


JAMA. 1899;XXXIII(23):1431. doi:10.1001/jama.1899.02450750051011

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According to an item in the daily press, a Missouri judge has recently decided that any physician who believes the case of a patient a hopeless one and fails to inform him is guilty of a breach of trust. As the paper editorially remarks, this is a decision that cuts both ways. It may be wrong under certain circumstances to encourage false hopes, but who has endowed us with prophetic powers, and what experienced physician has not seen what seemed to be hopeless cases recover? Again, how often do we not know that the abandonment of hope on the part of the patient means a quick succumbing to the disease, when otherwise life is at least prolonged, even in hopeless cases. In such a case the course indicated by this decision would simply mean murder, and if it ever compels any one to act in accord with it, the judge

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