Oregon emergency physicians' experiences with, attitudes toward, and concerns about physician-assisted suicide

Terri Schmidt, Andrew D. Zechnich, Virginia Tilden, Melinda A. Lee, Linda Ganzini, Heidi Nelson, Susan Tolle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To determine emergency physicians' (EPs') attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS), factors associated with those attitudes, current experiences with attempted suicides in terminally ill persons, and concerns about the impact of legalizing PAS on emergency medicine practice. Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous mailed survey was taken of EPs in the state of Oregon. Results: Of 356 eligible physicians, 248 (70%) returned the survey. Of the respondents, 69% indicated that PAS should be legal, 65% considered PAS consistent with the physician's role, and 19% believed that it is immoral. The respondents were concerned that patients might feel pressure if they perceived themselves to be either a care burden on others (82%) or a financial stress to others (69%). Only 37% indicated that the Oregon initiative has enough safeguards to protect vulnerable persons. Support for legalization was not associated with gender, age, or practice location. Respondents with no religious affiliation were most supportive of PAS (p <0.001), and Catholic respondents were least supportive (p = 0.03). A majority (58%) had treated at least I terminally ill patient after an apparent overdose. Most respondents (97%) indicated at least 1 circumstance for which they would sometimes be willing to let a terminally ill patient die without resuscitation after PAS if the Oregon initiative becomes law: if verified with an advance directive from the patient (81%), with documentation in writing from the physician (73%), after speaking to the primary physician (64%), if a competent patient verbally confirmed intent (60%), or if the family verbally confirmed intent (52%). Conclusions: Although the majority of Oregon EPs favor the concept of legalization of PAS, most have concerns that safeguards in the Oregon initiative are inadequate to protect vulnerable patients. These physicians would consider not resuscitating terminally ill patients who have attempted suicide under the law's provisions, only in the setting of documentation of the patient's intent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-945
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Volume3
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996

Fingerprint

Assisted Suicide
Emergencies
Physicians
Terminally Ill
Attempted Suicide
Documentation
Advance Directives
Physician's Role
Emergency Medicine
Surveys and Questionnaires
Resuscitation
Pressure

Keywords

  • depression
  • medical ethics
  • pain management
  • physician-assisted suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

Cite this

Oregon emergency physicians' experiences with, attitudes toward, and concerns about physician-assisted suicide. / Schmidt, Terri; Zechnich, Andrew D.; Tilden, Virginia; Lee, Melinda A.; Ganzini, Linda; Nelson, Heidi; Tolle, Susan.

In: Academic Emergency Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 10, 10.1996, p. 938-945.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{5191d3a78e2d419cbe1c9eba2f50b8d0,
title = "Oregon emergency physicians' experiences with, attitudes toward, and concerns about physician-assisted suicide",
abstract = "Objective: To determine emergency physicians' (EPs') attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS), factors associated with those attitudes, current experiences with attempted suicides in terminally ill persons, and concerns about the impact of legalizing PAS on emergency medicine practice. Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous mailed survey was taken of EPs in the state of Oregon. Results: Of 356 eligible physicians, 248 (70{\%}) returned the survey. Of the respondents, 69{\%} indicated that PAS should be legal, 65{\%} considered PAS consistent with the physician's role, and 19{\%} believed that it is immoral. The respondents were concerned that patients might feel pressure if they perceived themselves to be either a care burden on others (82{\%}) or a financial stress to others (69{\%}). Only 37{\%} indicated that the Oregon initiative has enough safeguards to protect vulnerable persons. Support for legalization was not associated with gender, age, or practice location. Respondents with no religious affiliation were most supportive of PAS (p <0.001), and Catholic respondents were least supportive (p = 0.03). A majority (58{\%}) had treated at least I terminally ill patient after an apparent overdose. Most respondents (97{\%}) indicated at least 1 circumstance for which they would sometimes be willing to let a terminally ill patient die without resuscitation after PAS if the Oregon initiative becomes law: if verified with an advance directive from the patient (81{\%}), with documentation in writing from the physician (73{\%}), after speaking to the primary physician (64{\%}), if a competent patient verbally confirmed intent (60{\%}), or if the family verbally confirmed intent (52{\%}). Conclusions: Although the majority of Oregon EPs favor the concept of legalization of PAS, most have concerns that safeguards in the Oregon initiative are inadequate to protect vulnerable patients. These physicians would consider not resuscitating terminally ill patients who have attempted suicide under the law's provisions, only in the setting of documentation of the patient's intent.",
keywords = "depression, medical ethics, pain management, physician-assisted suicide",
author = "Terri Schmidt and Zechnich, {Andrew D.} and Virginia Tilden and Lee, {Melinda A.} and Linda Ganzini and Heidi Nelson and Susan Tolle",
year = "1996",
month = "10",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "3",
pages = "938--945",
journal = "Academic Emergency Medicine",
issn = "1069-6563",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "10",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Oregon emergency physicians' experiences with, attitudes toward, and concerns about physician-assisted suicide

AU - Schmidt, Terri

AU - Zechnich, Andrew D.

AU - Tilden, Virginia

AU - Lee, Melinda A.

AU - Ganzini, Linda

AU - Nelson, Heidi

AU - Tolle, Susan

PY - 1996/10

Y1 - 1996/10

N2 - Objective: To determine emergency physicians' (EPs') attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS), factors associated with those attitudes, current experiences with attempted suicides in terminally ill persons, and concerns about the impact of legalizing PAS on emergency medicine practice. Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous mailed survey was taken of EPs in the state of Oregon. Results: Of 356 eligible physicians, 248 (70%) returned the survey. Of the respondents, 69% indicated that PAS should be legal, 65% considered PAS consistent with the physician's role, and 19% believed that it is immoral. The respondents were concerned that patients might feel pressure if they perceived themselves to be either a care burden on others (82%) or a financial stress to others (69%). Only 37% indicated that the Oregon initiative has enough safeguards to protect vulnerable persons. Support for legalization was not associated with gender, age, or practice location. Respondents with no religious affiliation were most supportive of PAS (p <0.001), and Catholic respondents were least supportive (p = 0.03). A majority (58%) had treated at least I terminally ill patient after an apparent overdose. Most respondents (97%) indicated at least 1 circumstance for which they would sometimes be willing to let a terminally ill patient die without resuscitation after PAS if the Oregon initiative becomes law: if verified with an advance directive from the patient (81%), with documentation in writing from the physician (73%), after speaking to the primary physician (64%), if a competent patient verbally confirmed intent (60%), or if the family verbally confirmed intent (52%). Conclusions: Although the majority of Oregon EPs favor the concept of legalization of PAS, most have concerns that safeguards in the Oregon initiative are inadequate to protect vulnerable patients. These physicians would consider not resuscitating terminally ill patients who have attempted suicide under the law's provisions, only in the setting of documentation of the patient's intent.

AB - Objective: To determine emergency physicians' (EPs') attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS), factors associated with those attitudes, current experiences with attempted suicides in terminally ill persons, and concerns about the impact of legalizing PAS on emergency medicine practice. Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous mailed survey was taken of EPs in the state of Oregon. Results: Of 356 eligible physicians, 248 (70%) returned the survey. Of the respondents, 69% indicated that PAS should be legal, 65% considered PAS consistent with the physician's role, and 19% believed that it is immoral. The respondents were concerned that patients might feel pressure if they perceived themselves to be either a care burden on others (82%) or a financial stress to others (69%). Only 37% indicated that the Oregon initiative has enough safeguards to protect vulnerable persons. Support for legalization was not associated with gender, age, or practice location. Respondents with no religious affiliation were most supportive of PAS (p <0.001), and Catholic respondents were least supportive (p = 0.03). A majority (58%) had treated at least I terminally ill patient after an apparent overdose. Most respondents (97%) indicated at least 1 circumstance for which they would sometimes be willing to let a terminally ill patient die without resuscitation after PAS if the Oregon initiative becomes law: if verified with an advance directive from the patient (81%), with documentation in writing from the physician (73%), after speaking to the primary physician (64%), if a competent patient verbally confirmed intent (60%), or if the family verbally confirmed intent (52%). Conclusions: Although the majority of Oregon EPs favor the concept of legalization of PAS, most have concerns that safeguards in the Oregon initiative are inadequate to protect vulnerable patients. These physicians would consider not resuscitating terminally ill patients who have attempted suicide under the law's provisions, only in the setting of documentation of the patient's intent.

KW - depression

KW - medical ethics

KW - pain management

KW - physician-assisted suicide

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0029835367&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0029835367&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

VL - 3

SP - 938

EP - 945

JO - Academic Emergency Medicine

JF - Academic Emergency Medicine

SN - 1069-6563

IS - 10

ER -