Ethical Issues in Healthcare
Euthanasia is also termed as 'mercy killing', involves concluding the existence of a terminally ill patient on deathbed due to a life-threatening illness. In essence, another individual decides to conclude the existence of the patient by multiple methods, such as using a lethal dosage of injection. The patients can choose euthanasia (voluntary), reject using euthanasia (involuntary), or could be unable to response, depending on their neural function. It is undertaken without the consent of the patient (non-voluntary). As euthanasia dictates authority over the life of an individual, it also allots this authority to an individual to act as an agent of death (American Nurses Association, 2013).
Euthanasia is a word taken from the Greek language, two words mainly, 'eu' and 'thanatos' which means 'good death'. As opposed to being condemned to an excruciating death, euthanasia provides a better opportunity to relieve a person of his sufferings.
On the flip side, euthanasia relieves a suffering patient from continuous pain by concluding life support. The patient, in case, is on deathbed, suffers immense pain from an ongoing illness.
According to the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements Provision 1 and Interpretive Statement 1.3 of The Code (2001) instructed to a nurse dictates that:
' ... respecting the rights, dignity and worth of each human being, regardless of the underlying disability or immediacy of death'. It is applicable on all those under the care of a nurse for promotion of health, well-being, averting illness, health restoration, alleviating human suffering, and supporting those who are near deathbed' (p. 12).
Euthanasia has both for-against arguments with advocates and proponents on both sides. Some postulates asserted by proponents and opponents of euthanasia are mentioned below:
The proponents of euthanasia have declared that an individual holds the right in choosing his death as per his wishes, within self-determination and autonomy principles (Bartels & Otlowski, 2010) (Kerridge, Lowe, & Stewart, 2009). As per autonomy, an individual has the right to choose his death, provided that it puts no individual in any danger. Moreover, euthanasia is also termed as a rejection of human life and its consequent importance. As opposed to pregnancy, where a choice exists, in case of euthanasia, the patient in question is paralyzed to make a decision.
American Nurses Association. (2013). Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, and Aid in Dying. ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights.
Bartels, L., & Otlowski, M. (2010). A right to die? Euthanasia and the law in Australia. J Law Med, 532-55.
Ebrahimi, N. (2012). The ethics of euthanasia. Australian Medical Student Journal.
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