Euthanasia: Death and Life

Topics: Death, Euthanasia, Suicide Pages: 14 (6440 words) Published: January 23, 2000
The purpose of this paper is to show the many sides and issues that deal with the subject of euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide. A questionnaire has been answered by 20 people over the age of 25. The results have been compared to the results taken from a similar study on doctors in Manitoba. Review of the Manitoba Survey: The original study was prepared by Neil Searles, who is a university law student. This study looks at the use of doctor assisted suicide which has rarely been looked at in Canada before. Legally and professionally euthanasia is prohibited, but doctors still, on occasion, perform it. The penalty for euthanasia is a maximum 14 year sentence. It is known that physicians, in rare occasions, perform the act but it is usually impossible to prosecute because of lack of evidence. The method used to collect the study was a 33 item questionnaire. The issues that were looked at include: Ethical opinions; pain management; policy opinions; and prevalence of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. There were 400 physicians that were randomly selected from the total of 2200 licensed members of the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. Several groups of doctors were left out of the study because they are not directly involved with the issue. Since the act of euthanasia is illegal, all responses were kept anonymous and a list of names was not kept. The results of the survey are generally the same as in other studies which show that the medical community is divided on the subject. From the 400 physicians, 122 returned the questionnaire, 10 were returned blank, 1 was lost by the physician, and one was excluded due to administrative complications. The usable response rate was 28.1%. 16% of the physicians had practiced medicine for less than 6 years, 18% had been practicing for 6 to 10 years, 16% had been practicing for 11 to 15 years, 21% had been practicing for 16 to 20 years, and 32% had practiced for 21 years or more. The charts below are the different types of questions used in the study. The respondents were to answer a 1 to 4 Likert scale where 1=Strongly disagree and 4=Strongly agree. Overall agreement is based on a score of 3 or 4, the number in the brackets is the mean. Ethical opinions: Proposition Overall Agreement (mean) 95% Confidence Interval Number of Physicians Responding There is no ethical difference between not starting a life support procedure and stopping it once it has been started. 52 (2.58) 43-61 n=112 Allowing a patient to die by forgoing or stopping treatment is ethically different from assisting in her or his suicide. 88 (3.50) 82-94 n=112 Pain and Suffering: Proposition Overall Agreement (mean) 95% Confidence Scale Number of Physicians Responding The provision of pain medication is not made less appropriate where it will certainly hasten Death. 95 (3.65) 91 - 99 n=111 The provision of pain medication is not made less appropriate where it will certainly hasten death. 83 (3.28) 76 - 91 n=108 The pain and suffering endured by some terminally ill patients, by continuing nutrition and hydration, can outweigh the benefits of prolonging life. 91 (3.47) 86 - 96 n=107 There is no point in legalizing assisted suicide or euthanasia because a patient can always refuse hydration and nutrition. 34 (2.13) 25 - 43 n=109 Some pain or suffering cannot be treated adequately without rendering a patient unconscious. 71 (2.18) 63 - 78 n=112 Requests for assisted suicide or euthanasia may often come from people who are rational and thinking clearly. 90 (3.33) 84 - 96 n=110 Policy Opinions: Proposition Overall Agreement (mean) 95% Confidence Interval Number of Physicians Responding Allowing euthanasia would cause people to have less faith in physicians. 61 (2.79) 52 - 70 n=111 If assisted suicide and euthanasia are legalized, physicians will be less likely to pursue palliation where a patient desires either assisted suicide or euthanasia 62 (2.59) 53-71 n=111 All competent patients should have the right to...
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