Terminal sedation: source of a restless ethical debate

Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (4):187 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Slow euthanasia or a good palliative intervention?There are many ways in which doctors influence the circumstances and/or the timing of a patient’s death. Some of these are accepted as normal medical practice—for instance, when a disproportional treatment is forgone, others are considered tolerable only under strict conditions or even intolerable, such as non-voluntary active euthanasia. A relatively new phenomenon in the ethical discussion on end-of-life decisions is terminal sedation. Terminal sedation is used in patients with terminal illnesses where normal medical treatments cannot relieve severe symptoms such as pain and agitation, and no option is left but to take away the perception of these symptoms. Often, the decision to start terminal sedation is accompanied by the decision to forgo the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration in these patients. In The Netherlands, terminal sedation was estimated to be applied in 4–10% of all deaths in 2001.1 The combination of these two decisions have made the moral status of terminal sedation the subject of fierce ethical debates. Is it slow euthanasia2,3 or is it a good palliative intervention that should be sharply distinguished from euthanasia?4,5 One of the characteristics of this debate is that it is a very confused one: people disagree about the meaning of the term, the appropriateness of it and, of course, about the conditions under which it would be morally justified. As a matter of fact, these three discussions are deeply connected: as is often the case, a discussion about terms is a discussion about norms in disguise.The first observation to be made is that many seemingly descriptive definitions of terminal sedation contain normative claims. Examples of this are definitions of terminal sedation in which only …

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,261

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Medical ethics and double effect: The case of terminal sedation.Joseph Boyle - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (1):51-60.
Terminal sedation and the "imminence condition".V. Cellarius - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (2):69-72.
Terminal sedation: Pulling the sheet over our eyes.Margaret P. Battin - 2008 - Hastings Center Report 38 (5):pp. 27-30.
Terminal Sedation as Palliative Care: Revalidating a Right to a Good Death.George P. Smith - 1998 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 7 (4):382-387.
Terminal Suffering and the Ethics of Palliative Sedation.Ben A. Rich - 2012 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21 (1):30-39.
The double life of double effect.Allison McIntyre - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (1):61-74.
End-of-life ethics: a case study approach.Kenneth J. Doka (ed.) - 2012 - Washington, D.C.: Hospice Foundation of America.
The ethics of palliative care: European perspectives.Henk ten Have & David Clark (eds.) - 2002 - Phildelphia, PA: Open University Press.

Analytics

Added to PP
2010-08-24

Downloads
44 (#363,319)

6 months
8 (#370,225)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jacob Van
United States Air Force Academy

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references