The Physician's Responsibility toward
Hopelessly Ill Patients
A Second Look
Sidney H. Wanzer, et al.
Some of the practices that were controversial five years ago 1 in the care of the dying patient have become accepted and routine. Donot-resuscitate (DNR) orders, nonexistent only a few years ago, are now commonplace. Many physicians and ethicists now agree that there is little difference between nasogastric or intravenous hydration and other life-sustaining measures. They have concluded, therefore, that it is ethical to withdraw nutrition and hydration from certain dying, hopelessly ill, or permanently unconscious patients. The public and the courts have tended to accept this principle. Most important, there has been an increase in sensitivity to the desires of dying patients on the part of doctors, other health professionals, and the public. The entire subject is now discussed openly. Various studies and reports____________________
This article is jointly authored by: Sidney H. Wanzer, M.D., Daniel D. Federman, M.D., S. James Adelstein, M.D., Christine K. Cassell, M.D., Edwin H. Cassem, M.D., Ronald E. Cranford, M.D., Edward W. Hook, M.D., Bernard Lo, M.D., Charles G. Moertel, M.D., Peter Safar, M.D., Alan Stone, M.D., and Jan van Eys, Ph.D., M.D.