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Ethical Issues With Regard To Euthanasia

1726 words - 7 pages

INTRODUCTION AND CASE STUDYIn this essay, I will be describing an ethical dilemma with regard to euthanasia, and the ethical principles that will guide a nurse to make an ethical decision in the best interests of the patient without compromising or her own professionalism.Mdm. X is a single woman living alone in a one room flat. She used to earn about $1800 per month. Due to a stroke, Mrs. X is in a partially parlysed state and on life support in the high dependency unit (HDU) ward. She has requested to be euthanised.WHAT IS EUTHANASIA AND ETHICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING ITEUTHANASIAThe word euthanasia is made up of two Greek words. "Eu" in greek means good, and "thanatos" means death. Together, euthanasia can be roughly translated as having a "good death" (Fillippo, 1992). Euthanasia cannot be considered as killing, because killing forcefully taking a life from somebody against their will. (Humphry, 1986) Euthanasia can be classified in to two categories: passive and active. Passive euthanasia is allowing a person to die without the use of any life saving techniques or technology, allowing the person to die a natural death. Active euthanasia is the taking of positive steps toward ending the life of a terminally ill patient. In the past, the medical had almost full control of exercising their judgement when making decisions regarding their patient's medical health, however, in modern times, there is an increasing number of patients who seek to regain this control and make decisions for their own health. This has resulted in an increase in terminally ill patients requesting euthanasia (McCormack, 1998)ETHICAL DISCUSSIONThe first ethical principle that we may consider in this scenario is the most basic ethical principle, which is patient autonomy. According to Webster's New World Medical Dictionary, patient autonomy is "the right of a patient to make decision on their medical care without their healthcare providers trying to influence their decision." This allows for the healthcare team to educate the patient on his medical condition but not make decisions for the patient. Although mrs X has indicated time and again that she wants to end her life, but because euthanasia is not legalised in Singapore she is disallowed her wish. Hence because of the law, we have no choice but to deny her her wish of dying. In doing so, we are in conflict of the ethical prinicipal to respect patient autonomy.However, I would like to criticise against using autonomy as a way to justify euthanasia as a morally good practice is not reliable, because exercising this autonomy detracts from the autonomy of others. It is a truth that every action that we take will have some effect on others in our society, and this is no different from a decision to die. (Blondeau, 1999) It especially detracts from the autonomy of nurses that the patient is in the care of, as nurses are not obliged to accede to every whim of the patient (McCabe, 2007). Hence a nurse's autonomy is violated by the...

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