Case and Commentary
Jan 2005

Mrs. Scott's Plan for the Future, Option Comparison

Jennifer Reenan, MD
Virtual Mentor. 2005;7(1):80-86. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2005.7.1.ccas14b-0501.


Because physician-assisted suicide is not supported by the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics, prescribing barbiturates for Mrs. Scott as in option A should be avoided. Nonetheless, Mrs. Scott is suffering and in need of medical care, so, in the absence of independent reasons, referring her to another physician, option C, should also be avoided.

There is still a great deal that medicine can do for Mrs. Scott. Hence, Dr. Lee should not abandon this patient and should attempt to treat her pain effectively, as stated in option B. Option D—recommending that Mrs. Scott see a counselor—is acceptable, but the need for this action will be clearer after her pain is under better control and Dr. Lee learns more about her illness and state of mind.

Preferable: Option B

Acceptable: Option D

Avoid: Options A and C

Additional discussion and information


Virtual Mentor. 2005;7(1):80-86.



The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.