Opinion A PIECE OF MY MIND Somehow, as a kid growing up in a nonreligious family, For years I practiced in a state where, if someone M. John Rowe III, MD I developed a very strong sense of right and wrong, of thought you were administering too much pain medi- Medford, Oregon. what ethical and moral behavior should be. I have tried cation to a terminally ill patient and the patient died, you to follow this tenet throughout my life. When I became could be charged with and possibly convicted of mur- involved with medicine, I took to heart all the maxims der. No amount of suffering was felt justified to inter- we were taught, particularly “First, do no harm.” But for vene with “natural” death. many years now I have realized that this concept is I personally have never met an individual who truly wrong, dead wrong. believed this on a rational, reasoned basis. In those who I believe that our first duty as physicians is to re- have professed this conviction, once the superficial logic lieve pain and suffering, whether it be physical or emo- had been taken away, it was always, at root, based on tional.
JAMA – American Medical Association
Published: Sep 1, 2015