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July 2018

How Better Communication Skills May Lessen the Need for Physician-Assisted Death: Talking Her Out of It

Author Affiliations
  • 1Independent Physician Advocate, San Francisco, California
JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(7):887-888. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2118

Jonee and her husband Harvey were living a full life when Jonee’s physician found some suspicious lymph nodes in her neck, which led to the diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer.

A neighbor referred her to me; I work as a private physician advocate. In my role as an advocate, I get to know my clients with serious illness through several structured conversations. I learn their goals and fears about their situations and assist them in seeking care that aligns with all of it. When we first met, I didn’t shy away from asking about Jonee’s fears about the end of her life. These are conversations that I’ve worked hard to master.

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