When the doctor gives a deadly dose.

  • Published 1987 in The Hastings Center report


A case study is presented in which a 70-year-old woman who went into cardiac failure following unsuccessful surgery was injected with potassium chloride by her concerned physician after morphine had no effect. Caplan considers the physician's action humane on the grounds that, if medical intervention offers no hope, active euthanasia should be available as a choice of action. Dickey, citing the current opinions of the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, views the physician's behavior as unacceptable by legal, social, and ethical standards. She urges that doctors be educated about the ethical nuances of limited treatment versus active euthanasia. Lynn sees the potassium injection as "over the line" that demarcates acceptable professional behavior, but favors counseling and institutional censure instead of criminal prosecution for fear that prosecution could increase physicians' reluctance to provide adequate symptom relief for dying patients.

Cite this paper

@article{1987WhenTD, title={When the doctor gives a deadly dose.}, author={}, journal={The Hastings Center report}, year={1987}, volume={17 6}, pages={33-5} }