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Ethics and the end of life
We often repeat the well-known rule: try to do good and avoid harm. Death and Dying presented with specific questions about this rule, because there are often conflicts arise when making a decision.
First of all, when it is clear that a person dies, whether we should continue the treatment, which is totally useless? If a patient suffers from side effects of treatment, is a duty on us to stop treatment? In other words, if we allow someone to die is tantamount to killing it?
Second, no one wants to bring the suffering of patients, but in extreme cases, analgesics or sedatives adequately may increase the likelihood of pneumonia and even encourage or hasten death as a side effect. If our only intention - to alleviate suffering, then is whether the patient's death from drugs to facilitate the intentional murder? Is this acceptable or double effect, we should not ignore the suffering of the patient, to avoid the risk of death?
Without a clear, unwavering moral system dying patients are very vulnerable. Christian Ethics offers clear absolutes along with the flexibility that will allow to make decisions and act in a coherent and consistent system of values:
- Life is a gift from God, and this means that we can not kill intentionally.
- Death of "normal" that is, life must be considered in the wider context of spiritual, physical, psychological and social aspects of the structure of the world, which include an explanation of the meaning of suffering. Compassion in order to reduce suffering is one of the greatest virtues and the characteristic of true religion.
- People are endowed with free will (autonomy). Patients should know the truth, to decide what should happen to their body. For example, treatment is physiologically futile, if there is absolutely no hope of physical improvement. On the other hand, the disease may limit the quality of human life so that his life continued to be useless in general. If a person is not depressed, it is possible to refuse further treatment for reasons of expediency.
- People are part of society, so a complete view of man must be made in the context of family and other relationships (HIV clarifies the other side of this issue).
Applying these principles to the end of life:
- Must first take care of the person, then it is his treat.
We are obliged to treat patients who can be cured, but in the case of the terminally ill, we must first control the pain and suffering.
- Since we must try to do no harm, then, if the damage exceeds the positive results of treatment, we should stop the treatment or not starting at all. Understanding the futility of treatment and natural death, gives a person the ability to make the right decision about when to stop treatment.
- We must help patients to die, but we can let them die.
- Taking care includes all aspects of life and death.
- Any concern must be based on open communication and trust.
- End of life should include psychological, social and family care. This requires resources beyond the purview of medicine.
- Preparation for death should include spiritual care.
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