December 8, 2012
Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide Debate
Physicians are committed to sustaining life and relieving suffering. Where the performance of one duty conflicts with the other; the patient’s wishes should prevail. Physicians are required by the principle of patient autonomy to respect a competent patient’s decision to forgo life-sustaining treatment, which prolongs life without reversing the underlying medical condition. Life-sustaining treatment includes, but is not limited to, mechanical ventilation, renal dialysis, chemotherapy, use of antibiotics, other drugs, and artificial nutrition and hydration. Define euthanasia and identify the difference between the types of euthanasia (passive/active euthanasia) Euthanasia is defined as the administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patient’s intolerable and incurable suffering. Some opponents feel that euthanasia is incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult to control if made public policy, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of practicing euthanasia, physicians should be sensitive to the needs of dying patients. Patients should not be abandoned when cure is impossible and should continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for autonomy, and effective communication. Discuss your beliefs regarding euthanasia. Are there any circumstances when you feel it is justified? Explain your answer. When it becomes evident that a patient’s disease is incurable and death is imminent, palliative care may serve the dying patient better than curative care. Palliative care is directed toward providing relief to terminally ill patients through symptom and pain management. The goal is not to cure but to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life. Going beyond relief of...