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The Ethical Issue Of Foregoing Nutrition And Hydration In End Of Life Care

2097 words - 8 pages

The Ethical Issue of Foregoing Nutrition and Hydration in End-of-Life CareEnd-of-life care comprises a major aspect of the modern health care system, serving those who suffer from terminal illness, a medical condition that is irreversible, or imminent death. As the aging population in the United States continues to grow at a rapid pace, along with a rising awareness of better care for the seniors in the general public over the years, end-of-life care has developed and branched-off into specific areas of care, including euthanasia, assisted suicide, and sophisticated palliative care. However, as one can imagine, decision-making in end-of-life care is not an easy process and often times concerns not only the patient, but also the immediate family members and the attending health care professionals. More times than not the process is filled with pain, suffering, and emotional distress for all of the three parties involved. The case of Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph requesting to pass away in a natural death by voluntarily foregoing nutrition and hydration is no exception to the scenario described above. The Ruldolphs, an elderly couple in their nineties of age yet mentally competent, have chose to move into an assisted living facility after having struggled with chronic pain due to sickness and severe immobility for years. As the pain and inability to move accentuated during their stay at the facility, the Rudolphs decide to voluntarily end their lives by refusing food and water. Mr. Black, the manager of the assisted living facility, disapproves Mr. and Mrs. Rudolphs' decision with great opposition and demands the couple to be evicted immediately. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate the ethical issue by exploring both the supporting and opposing arguments, and ultimately validate the stand that the Rudolphs withhold the right to stay in the facility until natural death takes place. The ethical principle of autonomy is used to support the position that Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph are to be allowed to remain in the facility until they pass away, while the principle of beneficence is applied to argue for the opposing position.The principle of autonomy states that autonomous persons, with their own set of values and goals, are able to reason about courses of action and have the right to not only communicate their decisions to others, but also to execute them (Tong 2007). The belief of autonomy is growing exponentially in the modern society as the population becomes more aware of their rights to decide what is best for them, especially in the realm of health care (Tong 2007). It is therefore not surprising to note that autonomous sentiment plays a major role in decision-making among patients in end-of-life care. According to Volker (2005), despite differences in ethnicity or religion, patients who suffer from life-limiting illness do indeed want control over their death. In general, control over one's body shares direct relationship with the physical and...

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