The option of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide (PAS) for terminally ill patients has risen since many stories of people all around the world have been shown in the media. Countries like Belgium and Colombia have legalized euthanasia but the United States has not. The only states in the US that have legalized physician assisted suicide are, Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana. This paper will discuss what euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is, the pros and cons on the topic, how nurses feel about the top and how they can educate and advocate for their patient during this important decision.
What is Euthanasia and Physician Assistant Suicide?
Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are two different things. The main difference is the person who is performing the act. Voluntary active euthanasia is intentionally administering medications or other interventions to cause the patient’s death at the patient’s explicit request and with full informed consent (Yuill 2013). The patient getting euthanized would not be the one to cause his/her death, a nurse or physician would be the one to carry out the request of the patient. Physician assisted suicide is a physician providing medications or other interventions to a patient with understanding that the patient intends to use them to commit suicide (Yuill 2013). This act is carried out by the patient themselves, not the physician or nurse.
Pros of Euthanasia and PAS
Compassion is one of the biggest pros when considering euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. When the patient has a terminal illness they suffer from physical and emotional pain. With the choice of euthanasia and PAS they get to end their suffering as they choos...
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...t of 2014 stated that 155 people were prescribed medication to self-administer, of that number 94 people ingested the medication, 37 people did not ingest it and 24 peoples status were unknown. The 94 people that did ingest the medication did not regain consciousness and died. 1,327 people have died from ingesting the prescriptions written for them since the Dying with Dignity Act has been passed (Oregon.gov).
Many states in the United States are pending the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. It is possible that these states will pass a law to legalize physician-assisted suicide and let patients who are terminally ill decide if they would like to terminate their life. Although there are pros and cons on this topic, nurses need to put aside their own thoughts by educating them on choices they have in end of life care and advocating for the patients choices.
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