Essay about Analysis of Physician Assisted Suicide Debate

2639 Words 11 Pages
Analysis of the Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Debate

This essay leaves no rock unturned in its analysis of the debate involving euthanasia and assisted suicide. Very thorough definitions are given for both concepts - with examples that clarify rather than obscure the reader's understanding.

Euthanasia is the intentional causing or hastening of death in a person with a medical condition that is judged to be serious. The patient may either be (a) alert and (b) aware and (c) competent to make their own decisions and (d) able to communicate or the patient may have (a) decreased alertness (due to encephalopathy or coma), (b) diminished awareness (retardation, dementia, vegetative state) and (c) be incompetent to make
…show more content…
However, if excessive and repeated doses of morphine are given to a sick patient who is not in pain, for the purpose of "comforting the patient" or to "relieve air hunger" or to relieve "labored breathing" this may really be euthanasia under the guise of "standard" medical treatment.

Another form of euthanasia that is frequently practiced is to switch off a ventilator (mechanical respirator) that is assisting breathing in a patient who is unable to breathe on their own. Some patients are put on a ventilator because they have lung disease and need the extra oxygen - these patients may be alert and be able to communicate. Some patients cannot breathe on their own because of brain disease. This may be reversible as in encephalopathy, or may be severe and irreversible such as in the persistent vegetative state.

It is frequently difficult to determine early in the course of an illness whether the condition is reversible or not and this usually only becomes clear with passage of time. Patients on ventilators are frequently in a deep coma and they may deteriorate and die. It is often difficult to know without a full neurological examination whether a patient is in deep coma or if they are dead. A series of tests has been drawn up to determine the presence of brain death and these are usually administered by a neurologist or neurosurgeon.

If these tests determine that brain death has occurred, it is legitimate to switch

Related Documents