Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Does gallows humor among physicians encourage accusations of murder and euthanasia?

Date:
September 4, 2012
Source:
Elsevier Health Sciences
Summary:
In a recent survey of palliative care medicine practitioners, nearly three quarters of the sample reported having been "humorously" accused of promoting death; For example, being called "Dr. Death." The survey found that a third of investigations into accusations of murder or euthanasia against physicians are instigated by fellow members of the health care team.

In a recent survey of palliative care medicine practitioners, nearly three quarters of the sample reported having been "humorously" accused of promoting death; for example, being called "Dr. Death." Most of the remarks came from fellow physicians and other health care professionals. At the same time, the survey found that a third of investigations into accusations of murder or euthanasia against physicians are instigated by fellow members of the health care team.

Related Articles


A commentary in the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that whether real or in jest, such accusations are grounded in the same societal beliefs.

"What jokes illustrate about medical society is that doctors and nurses are members of a pluralistic culture that clearly contains within it conflicting beliefs about end-of-life care, specifically hastening death," says author Lewis M. Cohen, MD, of Tufts University School of Medicine, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA.

Most clinicians who care for dying patients would take umbrage at the suggestion they actually kill patients. Palliative care medicine takes the position that shortening the process of dying to ameliorate suffering is entirely justifiable. However, many Americans, including health care providers, believe that human existence needs to be maintained for as long as possible, at any cost, without regard to the quality of life, or that it is a mortal sin to attempt to assume God's control over the manner of death. "Medical staff have different faiths, backgrounds, and countries of origin and all of these factors may contribute to clinical disagreements," observes Dr. Cohen.

He suggests that greater attention to communication and conscientious documentation can ameliorate, but not entirely forestall, dissension among health care workers about care at the end of life. "There should be a low threshold for allowing and requesting ethics consultations, while grand rounds and other academic forums can present controversial topics to make the point that it is acceptable to have and air differing views," he says.

As to gallows humor, Dr. Cohen believes it would be a mistake to conclude that physicians ought to cease joking about death with their colleagues. He cites Freud, who believed that wit contains and neutralizes a tremendous amount of hostility, that laughter provides emotional catharsis, and that jokes reveal more about societal attitudes of the time than about the individuals to which they are directed. "Levity must remain an acceptable defense mechanism in medicine for coping with the weightiest of medical duties: helping patients die with grace and dignity," he concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lewis M. Cohen. Murder and Euthanasia Accusations Against Physicians. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2012; 87 (9): 814 DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.05.016

Cite This Page:

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Does gallows humor among physicians encourage accusations of murder and euthanasia?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904100421.htm>.
Elsevier Health Sciences. (2012, September 4). Does gallows humor among physicians encourage accusations of murder and euthanasia?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904100421.htm
Elsevier Health Sciences. "Does gallows humor among physicians encourage accusations of murder and euthanasia?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904100421.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins