Context of the Review
Virginia Henderson defines nursing as "primarily helping people (sick or well) in the performance of those activities contributing to health, or its recovery (or to a peaceful death)..."(Henderson, 1977 get source for this). Euthanasia has been, for many years the subject of heated debate in the healthcare and legal arena, and the Netherlands' decriminalization of the act and the State of Oregon's passage of the Death with Dignity act, have served to add fuel to the fiery debate (van Bruchem-van de Scheu, van der Arend, van Wijmen, Huijer Abu-Saad, & ter Meulen, 2008). Since the enactment of this act in 1997, deaths associated with this act have increased from 16- in 1998- to 71, in 2001. These statistics tend to indicate that patients are increasingly exercising their right to self determination even as it related to when and how they die. Therefore it is imperative that as participants in patient care, the nurses' attitudes are sought (Oregon Heath Authority, 2012; (van Bruchem-van de Scheu et al., 2008).
Among the myriad of existing definitions of euthanasia, all sources consulted by the researcher tend to agree that it is the act of ending another's life usually to alleviate pain or suffering, the way in which it is done differentiates between its forms (3). In active euthanasia, death is achieved through the deliberate actions of another, such as when a doctor administers a lethal dose of Morphine at the patient's request. In passive euthanasia, death occurs as a result of the decision to not take action such as in a do not resuscitate order (4). In physician-assisted suicide, a doctor provides the means by which the patient will take his or her life (vicki lachman, Physicain assisted suicide: compassionate release or murder). Henceforth, the term euthanasia will be used in reference to active euthanasia.
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References: van Bruchem-van de Scheu, A., van der Arend, A., van Wijmen, F., Huijer Abu-Saad, H., & ter Meulen, R. (2008). Dutch Nurses’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide [Electronic version]. Nursing Ethics, 5(2), 186-198.
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