The complexity of ethical issues in medical practice compels discussants and professionals to focus on evidence-based ideas whenever making specific decisions. This concern arises from the fact that many stakeholders are involved in every ethical decision-making making process in healthcare. The ultimate goal of every process is to safeguard the rights of the greatest majority. This introductory part gives a personal statement of reflection regarding terminal sedation and physician-assisted suicide (or euthanasia).
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Soh, Krishna, Sim, and Yee (2016) define “terminal sedation” as any form of treatment administered to dying patients to relieve symptoms such as agitation and pain. This practice, therefore, is not the moral equivalent of euthanasia. This is the case because euthanasia is usually known to result in death. There is also an ethical difference between the right to die with dignity and other rights related to freedom from state-inflicted pain, medical treatment, and personal dignity.
Dying with dignity entails a natural process while every right related to personal dignity, state-inflicted pain, and medical treatment is a product of decision-making. Such rights are, therefore, left in the hands of patients, clinicians, or state officers. Ethical considerations should, therefore, foreclose the possibility of using pain medication to hasten or cause death. Stakeholders must make ethical and acceptable decisions.
Terminal sedation has become a longstanding and acceptable clinical practice in palliative care. This is something informed by the nature of terminal illnesses such as cancer. Patients living their last days can be supported using this method. Mentally competent terminally ill adults should be allowed to make personal decisions regarding euthanasia. The decision is guided by the principles of beneficence and self-determination (Hammaker & Knadig, 2016). However, the fact that the average time from sedation to death is 2-4 days affects this right. This is the case because patients might not achieve the targeted outcome immediately. The procedure might result in suffering.
The right to die and the traditional right to refuse life-saving medical treatment encompass the broader right to euthanasia. This is true because the final decision should be made by the patient. Unfortunately, there is a danger that the right to euthanasia and terminal sedation in terminally ill patients could be extended to the wider population during bioterrorist attacks and global pandemics. The occurrence of such attacks can result in a situation whereby many patients are wiped out using euthanasia. In the event of war or an emergency, decision-makers should strive to protect life instead of choosing euthanasia and terminal sedation (Hammaker & Knadig, 2016).
Finally, this right should not be extended to situations whereby victims of a bioterrorist attack or a global pandemic are neither terminal nor in a persistent vegetative state. The approach will ensure that more lives are saved using evidence-based techniques.
Decision-making procedures should be taken seriously whenever dealing with ethical concerns in healthcare such as euthanasia and terminal sedation. Using my decision-making model, I can successfully come up with the best ideas to advise my patients and colleagues. Societies should, therefore, make appropriate ethical decisions whenever addressing these questions affecting humankind.
Statement of Reflection
Practitioners must make desirable decisions whenever addressing their patients’ ethical concerns. The use of powerful decision-making models empowers professionals in medical practice to meet the needs of critically ill patients (Soh et al., 2016). This understanding has empowered me to come up with this personal statement of reflection: Throughout this course, I have acquired adequate concepts and ideas that have empowered me to make appropriate ethical judgments and decisions by principles such as autonomy, self-determination, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.
Hammaker, D. K., & Knadig, T. M. (2016). Health care ethics and the law. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Soh, T. L., Krishna, L. K., Sim, S. W., & Yee, A. C. (2016). Distancing sedation in end-of-life care from physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Singapore Medical Journal, 57(5), 220-227. Web.