Facing requests for physician-assisted suicide: Toward a practical and principled clinical skill set

Linda L. Emanuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

Requests for physician-assisted suicide are not a new phenomenon, and many physicians are likely to face this challenging situation. This article proposes for professionals an 8-step approach to respond to requests for physician-assisted suicide. The approach seeks to identify and treat the root causes of the request and aims to present a plan for consistent application of a set of clinical skills. Justification for the steps requires only 2 noncontentious principles: the patient should be free of unwanted intervention, and the physician is obligated to provide suffering patients with comfort care. Care based on these 2 principles alone does not include physician-assisted suicide. The approach does, however, justify patient refusal of oral intake in specific circumstances. The approach could resolve a majority of requests for physician-assisted suicide and should be tested further for clinical efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-647
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Volume280
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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