Assisted Suicide Ethical Dilemmas

1856 Words 8 Pages
Every day healthcare workers must make decisions when providing care to their patients. Some of those decisions are clear cut such as providing medicine that will stop nausea or medications that will relieve the pain of a heart attack. Other decisions in healthcare blur the lines of bioethics. One such area is end of life care and whether to assist a terminally ill patient to die. The practice of assisted suicide has been given names such as "death with dignity" or "right to die" to make it more palatable to individuals. I will discuss how assisted suicide is against medical practices, legal rights, ethical standards for nurses and physicians, as well as biblical teaching; whereas, palliative sedation adheres to the ethical and moral obligations …show more content…
The Harvard University Community Ethics Committee reviewed continuous deep sedation (CDS), also called palliative sedation, found that CDS was ethically supportable and should be included as an option for treatment for individuals with a terminal illness and intractable physical or existential pain (Powers & McLean, 2011, p. 65). When a physician provides CDS for an individual, they are providing treatment to the patient and are not violating their oath of "do no harm" (Powers & McLean, 2011, p. 65). Instead CDS is a therapeutic intervention to manage the refractory symptoms of terminal illness (Feen, 2011, p. 50). Professionally and morally, the physician is meeting their ethical and legal obligations to relieve pain when they implement CDS (Feen, 2011, p. 49). To further back this up, the American Medical Association 's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs in 2008 found that physicians had an "ethical obligation" to offer CDS as an option to provide relief from intractable symptoms (Feen, 2011, p. 50). For the nurse, ANA Code of Ethics states nurses are to prevent suffering in dying patients ( (Fowler, 2010, p. 148). The administration of palliative sedation medications, per a physicians order, and monitoring the patient for pain relief is well within the ANA …show more content…
There are times, however, that decisions become more difficult. One situation is during end of life care. The line between what is ethical and what provides the quickest relief from symptoms can cause the health care provider to rightfully question their practices. Although providing lethal doses of medication to cause death is a quick way to relieve terminal symptoms, it is unethical for the health care practitioner to participate in such practices because the practitioner is causing harm to the patient. Further, assisting a patient with dying is illegal in all but three states in the United States, and is in direct contrast to a biblical worldview which teaches that we are not to murder. To assist individuals with terminal illness and relief from their intractable symptoms, the act of palliative sedation is the ethical treatment choice. Palliative sedation does not cause death, rather it allows death to occur. Further, the treatment for palliative sedation requires a health care provider to monitor the level of sedation and side effects. In conclusion, since palliative sedation does not cause death, it is supported by a biblical worldview as well as other religious and cultural worldviews, making it the appropriate choice for caring for the terminally ill with intractable

Related Documents