Mayo Clinic review of ethical decision making with end-of-life care

Oct 01, 2010

In a review article published in the October issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Mayo Clinic physicians differentiate the ethical and legal permissibility of withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatments and accepted comfort measures, specifically palliative sedation, from that of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Physician reviewers find that palliative has an important place on the continuum of appropriate . "At the end of life, patient goals often shift to comfort, and removal of burdens and relief of suffering become paramount," says lead author, Paul Mueller, M.D., , Mayo Clinic.

"Many physicians are uncomfortable removing life-sustaining therapy or providing comfort-directed medication because of confusion about the ethical soundness of such treatments. In contrast to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, withdrawal of or withholding life-sustaining treatment and administering palliative sedation are ethically sound options."

Palliative sedation is appropriate therapy for refractory and unacceptably severe suffering. "As with any other therapy, the patient or surrogate should be informed of potential adverse effects, including loss of and potential for life-threatening aspiration or respiratory depression. Palliative medicine teams should be involved, if possible, in any case in which palliative sedation is considered," says Dr. Mueller.

"We hope that by increasing familiarity with the ethical basis for these practices we will encourage their appropriate application," he adds.

Explore further: Animated tips on how you should and shouldn't approach the visually impaired

More information: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com

Related Stories

How German palliative care physicians act at the end of life

Sep 07, 2010

Discussions about end of life practices in Germany have been almost taboo for over half a century, but now intense debate is underway as professional bodies review their guidelines to physicians caring for the dying. A new ...

Using morphine to hasten death is a myth, says doctor

Mar 02, 2007

Using morphine to end a person's life is a myth, argues a senior doctor in a letter to this week's BMJ. It follows the case of Kelly Taylor, a terminally ill woman who went to court earlier this month for the right to be ...

Recommended for you

Drug and device firms paid $6.5B to care providers

Jun 30, 2015

From research dollars to free lunches and junkets, drug and medical device companies paid doctors and leading hospitals nearly $6.5 billion last year, according to government data posted Tuesday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.