Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Palliative care

Uncertainty in dying: keeping both hands open

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 10 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2887
  1. Eileen M Palmer, consultant and medical director1
  1. 1Hospice at Home West Cumbria, Workington Community Hospital, Workington, Cumbria CA14 2RW, UK
  1. Eileen.Palmer{at}

Gott and colleagues explore clinicians’ views about transitions to palliative care in acute hospitals.1 Genuine uncertainty in recognising the point of transition emerges, alongside the inherent problem of “either-or” linear thinking about life, death, medicine, and the experience of being human.

The use of so called life prolonging treatments in acute settings does not preclude the use of …

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