ROCHESTER, N.Y. — No charges will be brought against a doctor who wrote in a prestigious medical journal that he had prescribed tranquilizers for a cancer patient so she could kill herself, prosecutors said Friday.
Authorities have not found a body or other evidence that Dr. Timothy Quill of the University of Rochester committed a crime, Monroe County Dist. Atty. Howard Relin said.
If there is no physical evidence of a crime "you don't have a prosecution or the possibility of a prosecution," Relin said.
Quill said in the March 7 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine that he told the medical examiner the patient died of leukemia rather than suicide to avoid a police investigation.
But a year after the death of the woman, identified only as Diane, Quill wrote the medical journal article, saying he wanted to bring debate about death and suffering into the open.
Quill said he prescribed the tranquilizers and told the patient how many she needed to kill herself when she could no longer stand the pain of her acute myelomonocytic leukemia and wanted to die. She had been his patient for eight years.
After several months of spending time with her husband and son, the pain reportedly began to dominate Diane's life. About a year ago, at age 45, she took the pills and died at home, Quill wrote.
County Medical Examiner Dr. Nicholas Forbes said his office identified about 12 cases connected to Quill during the past eight years in the medical examiner's files. None involved a relatively young woman who had suffered from leukemia, he said.
Going beyond that to examine the 70,000 death certificates over the past 10 years in Monroe County would take too much time, Relin said.
Quill could not be reached for comment Friday. Family members said he was on his honeymoon.