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Midterm paper - Essay Example

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Dignity in Life and in Death Name Date Palliative Care vs. Physician Assisted Suicide Issue # Dignity in Life and in Death Introduction The issue of dignity in life and death is centered on the discussion on how human beings should have the right to die. The right to die with dignity is often taken from the afflicted, a wasting away of their body taking with it the aspects of personal comfort and function that is both mentally demoralizing and a furtherance of the problems associated with catastrophic illness…
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Midterm paper

One of the alternatives that have emerged is the concept of palliative care in which the patient is sedated, often to the point of unconsciousness, so that their last days are without the pain and the knowledge of their undignified state. Palliative care is not the level of dignity that people deserve and the right to die should be given where palliative care is nothing more than a less politically charged substitute. Background One of the things that slip away very quickly when faced with illness is the right to direct one’s own life. The first thing becomes the choices about the future and the way in which one will live within that future. As doctors, family members, and eventually hospital staff begin to make the decisions about how, what and when one will do things, an individual slips into the role of ‘the patient’, no longer able to function without instructions and care. The right to choose death over a continuation of indignity, pain, and eventual harsh treatment of the body has become an issue through which many different opinions have emerged. Euthanasia is illegal in all fifty states, with the exception of Oregon and Washington where it is legal for physicians to prescribe, but not administer, drugs that will lead to death in the case of terminal situations.1 The right to choose death over pain and the indignities of a prolonged illness that is terminal is denied, leaving people to languish in their final days. Dignity in death is not a new issue. In the 1970s one of the solutions that emerged was the development of hospice care. Hospice care has an emphasis and spiritual and comfort, the individual does within that type of care not wanting aggressive medical care (McKenna & Feingold, 2010). The choice within the hospice environment is death through natural and dignified means to the extent that it is possible. Hospice care is most often done in the home, people given the opportunity to pass in their own beds or at the least in a space that is comfortable and filled with memories. The average length of care for hospice is 26 days, with the end clearly near. This unfortunate late arrival, however, fails to allow for the full use of hospice that might have prolonged the peaceful experience of passing into death.2 Hospice care, however, is not always a good option and an intermediate form of providing some dignity with death is that of palliative care. Under palliative care, the patient is given high levels of pain killers although the loss of consciousness is not the intended result. This gives the patient the opportunity to interact with their families, creating a more healing environment even when the restoration of health is unlikely. Often, though, it will lead to an unconscious state, relieving pain and keeping the sedated through the end of their time. The high level of pain reducing medications are maintained until the patient dies, giving the end of their days relief from either pain and often from the conscious knowledge of their physical state. Palliative care offers a solution to the problem of how the end of life comes to a patient in a great deal of pain and living in an undignified set of circumstances. The American Medical Association The American Medi ... Read More
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