Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics



PERSPECTIVES

The Perils of Hope


LAWRENCE J.  SCHNEIDERMAN  a1
a1 Departments of Family and Preventive Medicine and Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego

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One of the most entrenched commandments in medicine is: “Never take away a patient's hope!” Often it is issued during the treatment of a terminally ill patient to spur and justify the continuation of aggressive life-prolonging efforts. Hope has been called one of a patient‘s “most powerful internal resources,” and “a powerful ally, our last defense against despair.” One editorialist confidently stated: “[C]ommunicating hope can improve patients’ prognosis.”



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