When is it alright to advise a patient to smoke?

Believe it or not, there are such instances.

Peter Ubel tells us of one, in a sad case of end-stage metastatic lung cancer. While observing a patient and his wife arguing about his cigarette use, Dr. Ubel realizes that in this instance, it’s quality of life that matters.

So, instead of watching them fight, he encourages them to see the bigger picture: “My duty as a physician is to improve my patients’ lives. And if I can do that by sharing my perspective with them, however strange or uncomfortable it may sound, then that is what I must do. Even if it means encouraging them to smoke.”

Wise words.

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