To meet the real needs of the dying.
What dying patients need first and foremost is a safe environment. They need to know that our care for them is not contingent upon something they do or do not do. They need to know that we care about them as persons worthy of dignity and respect. A physician does not have to personally agree with every decision a patient makes. I have, on more than one occasion, refused a request or even a demand of a patient or family member. But I did not go away. When a patient says they “need” and ask for death, it is because of untreated symptoms or fear of untreatable symptoms, fear of disability, unrecognized emotional, social, or spiritual pain. I would not serve that patient well by my meeting that expressed “need” for death, because that expressed “need” is the result of my failing to meet the real needs of the patient.
from Dr. Walter Hunter’s 12 Imperatives for Working with the Dying