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The number of illnesses characterized by severe pain has increased significantly in the recent past. Medical professionals and researchers in the field of health have been keen to present evidence-based procedures for addressing most of these conditions. A good example is euthanasia which has been legalized in several countries. This discussion describes one of the key safeguards that should be outlined in any acceptable assisted death policy and why it is an important attribute.
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide require clear guidelines to support the procedures clinicians and physicians undertake while at the same time preventing malpractices. Every policy in this area is essential since it sets the right action plan and empowers practitioners to make meaningful decisions (Meier et al., 1998). The first guideline for strong assisted death policies is that every identified beneficiary should have a medical condition that is incurable and associated with severe suffering without a known relief. This safeguard requires that any patient who is to go through physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia should be suffering from an illness that is chronic in nature (Emanuel, Fairclough, & Emanuel, 2000). Some good examples include neurodegenerative diseases and terminal cancer. These conditions are usually associated with chronic or unbearable agony. The affected persons might be unable to pursue their goals effectively or lead healthy lives.
The selected guideline is important in every acceptable assisted death policy because of various reasons. Firstly, this safeguard ensures that patients who are to go through suicide or euthanasia have a disease that is characterized by immeasurable pain. This means that persons with manageable conditions are exempted and provided with timely medical support. Secondly, the guideline becomes a powerful safety precaution for discouraging clinicians from proposing physician-assisted suicide discriminately or to killing unsuspecting patients (Sullivan, Hedberg, & Hopkins, 2001). Thirdly, this requirement creates a new opportunity for medical professionals to engage in continuous research and propose superior ideas and clinical guidelines for managing specific diseases and conditions. This is true since any person who is to go through assisted death should have exhausted all available drugs or sources of relief.
Fourthly, the identified safeguard means that stakeholders have to consider evidence-based healthcare procedures and practices before electing the idea of physician-assisted suicide. Those involved will have to exhaust all avenues and existing clinical guidelines to make sure the condition of the selected patient is incurable. Fifthly, this requirement creates a scenario whereby all medical professionals adhere to the outlined standards of practice (Sullivan et al., 2001). It compels them to engage in ethical decision-making processes, seek the consent of the targeted patient, and apply their philosophies indiscriminately. Finally, the nature of this safeguard forces physicians to involve others, including family members, policymakers, health managers, practitioners, ethicists, and legal experts (Meier et al., 1998). Consequently, the outlined safeguard becomes the first line of defense in making sure that only the right individuals with chronic and incurable medical conditions benefit from assisted death.
The above discussion has indicated that every strong assisted death policy should meet various safeguards. The first guideline has been identified and described as critical for both patients and physicians. This principle ensures that individuals who benefit from euthanasia suffer from terminal conditions characterized by severe pain. This safeguard, therefore, continues to prevent the misuse of physician-assisted suicide throughout the care delivery process.
Emanuel, E. J., Fairclough, D. L., & Emanuel, L. L. (2000). Attitudes and desires related to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide among terminally ill patients and their caregivers. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(19), 2460-2468.
Meier, D. E., Emmons, C., Wallenstein, S., Quill, T., Morrison, R. S., & Cassel, C. K. (1998). A national survey of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine, 338(17), 1193-1201.
Sullivan, A. D., Hedberg, K., & Hopkins, D. (2001). Legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon, 1998-2000. The New England Journal of Medicine, 344(8), 605-613.