Letter: Doctors and dying
Friday 14 May 1999
Doctors and dying
Sir: I object to the reported statements from Dr David Moor that all doctors "walk a tightrope" when treating dying patients and from Dr Michael Irwin that "most doctors do it [euthanasia]" ("Doctor cleared of murdering patient", 12 May).
I believe the opposite to be true. In my experience most GPs consider looking after terminally ill patients an honour and a bridge across which we willingly walk as we struggle to relieve symptoms such as pain and emotional turmoil in our patients' final days.
Euthanasia remains rare in this country. The trial of Dr Moor has changed nothing. His stated intention was to relieve pain; hence his acquittal. To simply hasten a patient's death, even in distressing circumstances, remains an option no doctor should entertain.
Euthanasia denies the sanctity of life, but the issue focuses attention on a real and profound fear of dying. It is this fear that many doctors feel should be the focus of our energies.
Dr JOHN WOMERSLEY
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