Palliative Sedation: – Ethical or Non Ethical ?
Many reputed doctors around the world are of the opinion that comparing palliative sedation with euthanasia is absolutely not fair. In palliative sedation a person’s life is not cut short while in euthanasia a person’s life is cut short only to relieve him from the enormous pain that they have been living in for many years, in some cases. But palliative sedation only an attempt made by the medical authority to relief the patient of all the unbearable pain during the last few days or during the last hours of a patient’s life.
Palliative sedation is caused by continuous injection of some kind of sedative drug into the patient’s body. It is considered among the doctors as the means of last effective resort. Palliative sedation is used only when everything else fails & nothing is working on the patient. During the final stage of the patient’s illness cannot be handled by any other means , example palliative cancer care or other effective options, then doctors are forced to use palliative sedation.
Palliative sedation v/s euthanasia
When the doctors feel that the patient’s symptoms cannot be treated & the patient’s unbearable pain cannot be cured then only palliative sedation is used on a patient just to give him some relief from the pain. But there is no intention of mercy killing here unlike in euthanasia. Till now no evidence has been received that repeated palliative sedation can cut a person’s life short. As patients do not have a right to plead for their death hence euthanasia is illegal in many countries & also considered immoral as people feel that the doctors by killing their own patients are cheating their profession. But patients do have a right to ask the health staff to stop giving them any treatment or may even ask the doctors to relieve them of their pain. Hence palliative sedation is considered ethical & as part of the doctor’s job.
Legality of Palliative Sedation
According to some figures that came out in 2010, over 18% of people who were put under continuous palliative sedation had died. Hence it is raising more questions about the palliative sedation policy. The US government had set up a committee which has passed the practice of palliative sedation as legal & even ethical. They declared that if a doctor uses this with good intention of relieving a person from his or her pain then he needs to be given the benefit of doubt. Hence it became legal & ethical.