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Medicine and Public Policy |

Medical Responsibility and Thermonuclear War

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Grant support: Dr. Cassel is a Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Faculty Scholar in General Internal Medicine. Dr. Jameton is supported by the Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, San Francisco, California.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent official statements of either the Veterans Administration or the Institute for Health Policy Studies.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Christine Cassel, M.D.; Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center, 3710 S.W. Veterans Hospital Road; Portland, OR 97201.

Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California

©1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1982;97(3):426-432. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-97-3-426
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The attention of physicians is being drawn to the issue of nuclear weapons and nuclear war, creating controversy about whether a political concern is appropriate for health care professionals. The use of nuclear weapons would incur human death and injury on a scale both unprecedented and unimaginable, and possibly damage the ecosphere far beyond the weapons' immediate effects. Medical supplies and facilities would be nonexistent; no meaningful medical response would be possible. A physician's responsibility to prevent nuclear war is based on the imperative to prevent a devastating incurable disease that cannot be treated. Such an imperative is consistent with the historic tradition of the social responsibility of health professionals, and can be justified by philosophical argument.







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