End-of-Life Care: Forensic Medicine v. Palliative Medicine

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 31 (3):365-376 (2003)
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Abstract

The increasing life expectancy of terminally-ill people has raised many public policy concerns about end-of-life care. Due to increased longevity and the lack of cures for illnesses like cancer and heart disease, palliative care, particularly pain management, has become an important mode OF medical therapy. Palliative care providers feel that “[h]ealth care professionals have a moral duty to provide adequate palliative care and pain relief, even if such care shortens the patient’s life.” Practitioners of forensic medicine grapple with determining when to classify the death of a person formerly receiving palliative care as a non-natural death. Such classification may be paramount in the enforcement of new statutes that aim at preventing assisted suicide or monitoring the quality of health care, but it potentially places forensic medicine and palliative medicine in adversarial roles.

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