COMMON REMEDIES FOR EUTHANASIA: CARE AND COMMUNICATION Euthanasia refers to the practice of ending a life in an attempt to relieve pain. It has been a controversial topic for a long time and innumerable researches have been done on this issue. In this essay, various articles have been considered in order to summarize two key areas of concern in euthanasia and the corresponding suggestions of the articles for these areas. The first key area of concern for many scholars is the subjective value of the patients’ lives.
In other words, whether the patients feel their lives meaningful is a dominating factor determining the righteousness of euthanasia. Lo (2009) provides five criteria for physicians to decide whether euthanasia is justified. The first two criteria state that the patients should be terminally ill with continuous suffering while no palliative care can alleviate the pain. This may imply that no hope of recovery but endless torturing demeans the quality and also the meaning of the patients’ lives and hence euthanasia may be acceptable and is considered as the last resort of this situation.
Similar ideas have been mentioned by other articles. McDougall & Gorman (2008) use the term “quality of life” to indicate the subjective feelings of the patients and suggest that this item is a fundamental cause of patients’ requests for dying even though it may not be quantifiable. The fundamentality of the quality of patients’ lives contributes to its essentiality of consideration before responding to euthanasia. Qiu (1993) uses the term “brain death” to define the death of a person and clearly states that the meaning but not the process of living is of utmost importance in China.
This suggests that maintaining the life is not important when the patients cannot feel the meaning of life. All these analyses essentially show that patients’ feelings and evaluations of their lives should be considered with discretion in responding to euthanasia. Handling this problem is practically difficult but academically consistent. Caring the patients with sincerity is a common practice mentioned by many articles. Lo (2009) advises physicians to provide more intensive palliative care. Not only the physical pain, but the care should lso alleviate the patients’ mental suffering and help the patients realize the meaning of their lives. McDougall & Gorman (2008) argue that palliative care including open discussions with the patients who have lost meaning in everything is the role of physicians because the doctors may not always effectively handle this issue. In Matzo & Schwarz’s report (2001), many nurses believe that the primary nursing concern is to provide comfort care but not merely physical pain management. All these imply that care is widely recognized as an effective way to address patients’ mental problems and rebuild the value of their lives.
Another key area of concern commonly mentioned by scholars is the patients’ dignity. In other words, patients’ ultimate choices should be respected. Lo (2009) suggests that respecting the patients’ autonomy is the first reason justifying euthanasia. According to Lo (2009), refusing life-prolonging interventions may be granted because this may be the patients’ rights to protect their dignity. According to McDougall & Gorman (1998, as cited in McKhann, p. 45-46), suggests that exercising one’s autonomy and self-determination is the second foundation where euthanasia can be granted (p. 33-34).
Matzo & Schwarz (2001) have performed an in-depth analysis on the data of a survey relating to the responses to euthanasia and opinions of nurses. According to their report, although most nurses claim that their primary duty is to relieve patients’ pain but not to consider whether the used opiates would kill the patients, some nurses accept euthanasia when the patients lose their independence and dignity. Although the intensity of different people’s attitudes may not be essentially the same, it is obvious that patients’ ultimate option which also represents their dignity is a key area where physicians should never ignore.
Dealing with this issue is comparatively complex and abstract because this requires finding the true wish concealed in patients’ mind. Communication with different people is the practice recommended by scholars. Lo (2009) advices physicians to openly talk to their patients so as to understand how persistent their patients are and share the cases of euthanasia with their colleagues in order to relieve their stress. Similar concepts have been reported by other articles. Chong & Fok (2005) pay much attention to the consensus of different people and encourage two-way communication and joint decision on euthanasia among different relevant parties.
In Matzo & Schwarz’s report (2001), meaningful communication and the resolution of past difficulties between patients and their family members are known as good practices among many nurses. All these reveal that communication is probably helpful in revealing and respecting patients’ wish. In conclusion, even though there are still many unknown areas in euthanasia, helping patients realize their living value and dignity are commonly known as two key areas of concern in euthanasia. These are also two key duties of the physicians.
To cope with these items, care with sincerity and communication with patience are probably the most standard and effective guidelines for physicians. References Chong, A. M. L. , & Fok, S. Y. (2005). Attitudes toward Euthanasia in Hong Kong- A Comparison between physicians and the General Public. Death Studies, 29(1), 51. Lo. B. (2009). Physician-Assisted Suicide and Active Euthanasia. In B. Lo, Resolving Ethical Dilemmas: A guide for Clinicians (4th Ed. ). (pp. 153, 157-159. ). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. Matzo, M.
L. , & Schwarz, J. K. (2001). In Their Own Words: Oncology Nurses Respond to Patient Requests for Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Applied Nursing Research, 14(2), 68. Mcdougall, J. F. , & Gorman, M. (2008). Problems, Controversies, and Solutions Related to End-of-Life Issues. In J. F. McDougall & M. Gorman (2nd Ed. ), Euthanasia: A Reference Handbook (pp. 33-35, 36, 46-47). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Qiu. R. Z. (1993). Chinese Medical Ethics and Euthanasia. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 2(1), 70. Word number: 843