November 28, 2012
“Should Physicians ever Hasten terminally ill Patients”
Everybody in this world have the right to decide what they want to do with their lives. Unfortunately, even the procedure of dying has become way more dense and complex than it ever was. Doctors and Nurses used to do their best to save the lives of patient until the last breath of their life. But clearly, a lot of policies in Hospitals and Nursing homes have changed and the basic reason of all these changes, according to researchers, is Technology. Where did this idea come from?
In the article “Attitudes of Michigan Physicians and the Public toward Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia” by ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ the authors of the article have shown the basic background of where did this all started from. According to them,
The legalization, in some form, of physician-assisted suicide has been the goal of referendums introduced in the states of Washington (defeated in 1991), California (defeated in 1992), and Oregon (passed in 1994, but not yet implemented because of court challenges). Assisted suicide has also been the focus of legislative and judicial action in Michigan during the past several years, prompted by the actions of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
On the other hand, In the Article “Right to Die”, the author has discussed about how Technology has made patients stand in the middle of the route to choose which way they should be going to ease their pain. But the basic question in this matter is about “human dignity and what constitutes a good death.”
In the book “Assisted Suicide”, many contributors who have gone through pain of losing their loved ones, argues that Physician aid in dying should be promoted. Physician’s help to kill a terminally ill patient, promotes dignity and can save a lot of those people to suffer from such pain, they say. They also added that patients should have right to end their lives with dignity.
Many hospitals these days, ask the patient to sign the “living will” before a serious surgery. To me, this piece of paper makes patients believe that something will happen to them later which is only making them nervous and unsure about their death. In that case, sometime patients do not die but face some very severe terminal illness which led them, their family and doctors to the decision of either to fight with the disease, or slowly get stuck into the swirl of death and eventually die.
This decision, however, is not always easy for many of the patients. This is the part where their ethical values and religion comes in. Many patients refuse to hasten their death-even if they want to, because of their religious rules which doesn’t allow them to commit suicide.
But for a lot of other patients, there may come a point when the fight to survive with the pain they are going through, no longer seems worth it. According to the article, “those patients may find their wishes and those of their families overlooked as physicians juggle medical, legal and moral considerations. In most cases, medical professionals have considerable discretion in deciding when additional efforts to sustain life are futile and a patient should be allowed to die.”
The question that bothers me throughout this situation is “who is the one responsible to take decision if the patient’s life is worth living or not?” Many doctors and the patient’s families come to the decision where they finally decide to kill the patients slowly by giving them morphine or other such medicines. Patients, who are actually able to decide about their life, usually choose to die slowly rather than suffering the endless pain.
While talking to Ms. Mary, a Nurse at Baylor Hospital and a very close family friend of mine, I tried to ask her point of view about hastening patient’s life and what other doctors and families usually do in these types of situations. She told me that in her opinion, patients should not suffer. She