Ethical Issues Related to Euthanasia – Medical Ethics Example

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"Ethical Issues Related to Euthanasia" is a perfect example of a paper on medical ethics. The Bioethics Committee of Subacute and LTC institutions conducted a meeting whose attendance incorporated physicians, nurses, and APNs from the institution. The agenda in question that was discussed in the meeting was about ethical issues related to end of life, advance directives, and POST form. The issues were highlighted to more frequently cause friction between healthcare workers and ethicists. The little consensus is usually reached as the issues normally end in stalemate besides being stagnant to find amicable solutions. End of life It is quite an ethical challenge to care for patients approaching the end of life.

Physicians and other medical practitioners may find it difficult to deal with situations that encompass the ending of a patient’ s life depending on the situation in question. Terminal illness is a disease process that has the highest probability of eventually causing the death of a patient. The word euthanasia is usually used in medical jargon to refer to death. There are two types of euthanasia: active euthanasia and passive euthanasia.

Active euthanasia entails the deliberate or intentional killing of a patient while the passive involves the withdrawal of treatment so that the disease takes its course in ending the patient’ s life. It is perceived that letting individuals die to be relatively acceptable but on moral grounds, it can be as unethical as active killing (Smith, 2012). Euthanasia can also be viewed in the context of voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary. The voluntary category involves the physician ending the life of a patient at the request of that particular patient while non-voluntary entails ending the life of an ailing individual at the request of a member of the patient’ s family.

However, the patient must have exhibited signs of incompetency. On the other hand, involuntary euthanasia involves taking a patient life that is competent and wishes not to die. The ethical morals surrounding these forms of end of life have always resulted in controversies and at times getting to a consensus to be a hard nut to crack (Lawton, 2001). Advance directives Advance directives are documents that legally which gives capable individuals the leverage to express their wishes so that in case of eventualities such as that result into temporary and permanent inability to make decision deemed conscious due to ailment or injury so that those wishes are either honored or communicated.

The three types of advance directives are appointment, instructional, and combined advanced directives.   Appointment directives are usually at times referred to as healthcare proxy. It allows individuals while still conscious to appoint healthcare agents who incase of eventuality can assist on their behalf to make healthcare decisions. They only make decisions if the individual is either permanent or temporarily incapable of making decisions that are informed.

Besides the healthcare agent, the individual also appoints an alternative agent who in the absence of the first agent can assist in decision making. On the other hand, instructional directives encompass an individual documenting or making a will so that in case of an eventuality the will is honored while combined directives involve a combination of both the instructional and appointment directives. In appointment directive, the following conditions should be met: the healthcare agent has to be of legal age; is limited to making decisions pertaining to the end of life of the patients; and a healthcare agent must not necessarily be a family member (Johnstone, 2009).   POLST (Physicians Order for Life-Sustaining to Treatment) form This is a perspective aimed at improving end of life care where medical practitioners are encouraged to communicate with patients.

It also entails creating particular medical orders that are honored by the medical workers when the medical crisis is at the epicenter (Machado, 2004). The form allows patients who are extremely ill some form of control during their end of life care.

It involves medical treatment and measures that are deemed or perceived to be extraordinary. In most cases, the form is signed by both the doctors and patients. It helps in not only minimizing cases of ineffective administration of medications or treatment but also minimizes family and patients from suffering as well as making sure that the wishes of the patient as stipulated are honored (Cone, Brice, Delbridge, & Myers, 2015). Summary of the discussion The committee discussed various cases on the topic mentioned in the agenda and the ethics surrounding these issues as well as controversies that are usually embedded alongside them.

More emphasis was laid on the issue of end of life (active, passive, and voluntary, involuntary, non-voluntary). The committee decided that cases involving active, passive, voluntary, and all other forms of euthanasia are to be vigilantly weighed before the individuals from the various disciplines that attended the meeting making decisions. All the forms of euthanasia were highly discouraged unless they were extremely compelling. Moreover, the medical practitioners involved in such cases should evaluate if the action recommended being taken commensurate with their values.   Recommendations The institution to highly discourage all the forms of euthanasia unless in unavoidable circumstances The practitioners who encounter these ethical challenges to incorporate if the action intended to be taken coincide with their values. The institution should avail of the POLST forms All the medical workers to try by all means possible to provide medical treatment to patients even in the eventuality of patients’ conditions deteriorating to the terminal stage. Lessons learned Making ethical decisions especially concerning issues surrounding patients ailing from conditions that are in the terminal stages at times prove to be quite challenging.

There is a thin line between inactive and passive euthanasia which entails moral judgment or either a physician letting a patient die or killing the patient to prevent the patient from suffering though those who make decisions geared towards active euthanasia are usually condemned more than those who opt for the passive form.  


Machado, C. (2004). Brain death and disorders of consciousness: [proceedings of the IV International Symposium on Coma and Death, held March 9 - 12, 2004, in Havana, Cuba]. New York: Springer Science + Business Media.

In Cone, D. C., In Brice, J. H., In Delbridge, T. R., & In Myers, J. B. (2015). Emergency medical services: Clinical practice and systems oversight.

Smith, S. W. (2012). End-of-life decisions in medical care: Principles and policies for regulating the dying process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lawton, M. P. (2001). Focus on the end of life: Scientific and social issues. New York: Springer Pub. Co.

Johnstone, M.-J. (2009). Bioethics: A nursing perspective. Sydney, N.S.W: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

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