Physician-assisted suicide goes against the traditional healing role of the physician and, as pointed out by Bernat,1 is likely to undermine the patient-physician relationship. It is clear that physicians, as a group, are divided in their willingness to assist suicide: 375 (40%) of 938 physicians in Washington State were willing to assist a patient to commit suicide, but 366 (39%) of 938 held that assisted suicide is never ethically justified.2 With the reports3 from the Netherlands that involuntary euthanasia has followed the legalization of voluntary euthanasia, concern will increase among patients as to what would happen to them if they became too ill to participate in end-of-life decisions. Physicians are unlikely to discuss their ethical views with patients, but patients will increasingly want to know their physicians' stand on euthanasia and assisted suicide.
One way to address this is for physicians to document their stand on euthanasia
Pullicino P. Physician-Assisted Suicide. Arch Neurol. 1997;54(5):516. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550170006002
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: