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 January 30, 2015 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 January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

Oxfam Calls for Massive Aid for Ebola-Hit West Africa

AFP (Jan. 29, 2015) Oxfam International has called for a multi-million dollar post-Ebola "Marshall Plan", with financial support given by wealthy countries, to help Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to recover. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Are We Winning The Fight Against Ebola?

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The World Health Organization announced the fight against Ebola has entered its second phase as the number of cases per week has steadily dropped. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Health Officials Campaign Against E-Cigarettes

Calif. Health Officials Campaign Against E-Cigarettes

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) The California Health Department says e-cigarettes are a public health risk for both smokers and those who inhale e-cig smoke secondhand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

Measles Scare Sends 66 Calif. Students Home

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) Officials say 66 students at a Southern California high school have been told to stay home through the end of next week because they may have been exposed to measles and are not vaccinated. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
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