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September 1965

The Terminal Patient

Arch Otolaryngol. 1965;82(3):211. doi:10.1001/archotol.1965.00760010213001

THE OTOLARYNGOLOGIST, though far less often than the family physician, may become the managing physician for a patient with a terminal illness. The surgical specialist then needs to be the all-around physician able to treat the total patient and his family. Most helpful is the lead article in the May 24, 1965 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.1

First, the physician must make sure that everything reasonable has been done to effect a cure and make the patient as free from pain as possible. This does not mean using heroic measures to prolong life when the illness is hopeless; such prolongation would be a burden to the patient and his family.

Second, he must tell the patient the facts of his physical condition as truthfully and fully as the patient wishes to know them. A good physician cannot lie to his patient. At the same time,