Daniel P. Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD; Wayne A. Ury, MD; Judith C. Ahronheim, MD; Mark Siegler, MD; Leon Kass, MD, PhD; John Lantos, MD; Robert A. Burt, JD; Kathleen Foley, MD; Richard Payne, MD; Carlos Gomez, MD; Thomas J. Krizek, MD; Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD; Russell K. Portenoy, MD
Sulmasy DP, Ury WA, Ahronheim JC, Siegler M, Kass L, Lantos J, et al. Palliative Treatment of Last Resort and Assisted Suicide. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:562-563. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-7-200010030-00023
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(7):562-563.
TO THE EDITOR:
We are deeply troubled by a recent pair of papers on terminal sedation and “voluntary refusal of food and fluids” (1, 2) and the process by which they were accepted and published in Annals. At the request of the editors, we address the issues raised by the second of these papers in this letter, while addressing related issues separately (3, 4).
Quill and colleagues, representing the Consensus Panel of the Finding Common Ground Project (2), first observe that patients, even those “who do not have imminently terminal conditions,” may stop eating and drinking “as a variant of stopping life-sustaining treatment.” They then aver that physicians may sedate such patients if the process becomes “uncomfortable” and that this “terminal sedation” could be undertaken with the specific intention of hastening death.
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