Physician assisted suicide is a highly controversial ethical dilemma that is receiving a lot of press in society recently. The issue is an emotional debate whether a terminally ill or disabled person has the right to end their existence with the support of their physician, which affects not just the patient, but their families and health care providers. Physician assisted suicide has legal ramifications as well. One argument in favor of Physician assisted suicide alludes to that the patient has the right to end their life with dignity.
An opposing argument is if a physician participates in assisted suicide this goes against the “American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics”. A physician and nurse are respected within the community to provide palliative care for a patient’s end of life management, not to end their life. An ethical dilemma is a situation in which an individual must make a decision about which course of action is best. Ethics are standards, which are used by society to determine what the right course of action in which a situation should be.
And there are laws, which govern a particular course of action in determining the correct option. One option may be morally wrong for one party, while the other may be morally wrong for the other party. The dilemma presented here is whether or not to allow physician assisted suicide. When a patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has less than six month life expectancy, a few states allow Physician assisted suicide as an option to end their lives. A physician may prescribe or administer a lethal dose of sedative to end the patient’s life.
This gives the patient the control to choose suicide instead of the process of a natural death. This is an example of a patient’s right to autonomy. An ethical dilemma is a choice that is being made between two options. One option may be morally wrong for one party, while the other may be morally wrong for the other party. The dilemma presented here is whether or not to allow physician assisted suicide. When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has six months or less left to live, in someone states they are given the option to end their life via physician-assisted suicide.
The physician gives them the option for a lethal dose of medication to end the patient’s life. This gives the patient their right to choose the care they wish to be provided for them. This gives the patient their right to autonomy. On the other side, people argue that physician assisted suicide is morally wrong because they are ending someone’s life, when their job is to help people, and support heir life, like providing palliative care for end of life care. Some people also feel that it is up to God to end someone’s life and not another human being.
It clearly states in the bible, “Thou shalt not kill. ” If a physician does this, it goes against the American Medical Association code of ethics. A patient can be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have the prognosis of six months or less to live. This means the patient is given options as to what they wish to do for the remainder of their time here on earth. They are given the option of hospice, whether they wish to be at home or in the hospital, or whether they’re going to do nothing and just let it run its course. In certain states these patients are educated on assisted suicide.
The physician explains to them that they can be given a lethal dose of a medication and they will pass away if they no longer wish to live. Giving the patient this option gives them their right of autonomy. The patient has the right to choose what care they will receive. “Advocates contend that individuals should be able to make judgments about the quality of their present and future life and decide their own course of action, which may include assisted suicide or euthanasia,” (Ersek, 2004).
When these patients are given the option for physician assisted uicide, they also have the right to determine they are given the medication, and they also have the right to refuse it at any time. Giving the option of physician assisted suicide is just one option of the many when they have the terminal prognosis. With the option of physician-assisted suicide, there is the issue of ending someone’s life instead of trying to help it. The medical field is there to help take care of people’s lives, and to help manage symptoms of chronic issues. There are many options to illnesses and terr and terminal prognosis. There are ways to help manage pain during the end of life care.
There are also options to be at home, or to stay in the hospital and receive twenty-fourseven care. Non-maleficence comes into play, which means to prevent harm. Many people believe that no one should help someone end their life. This goes against many religious principles of not taking someone’s life. Some arguments question the accuracy of the diagnosis time frame of their illness. Virtue ethics differs from person to person. Virtue ethics is the person’s moral belief with any given situation. Having certain beliefs will guide that person to perform a certain act with the situation given.
When a physician is giving the patient the option for assisted suicide, they are compassionate towards the amount of suffering the patient has gone through and what they will go through. They do not wish to see the patient suffer any more and are glad to help the patient end the suffering in their own terms. A physician also has courage being able to stand up against those who may be against physician-assisted suicide. Some physicians are put in prison because they were charged with murder. The physician believes they are helping that patient and stand string in their beliefs to give the patient their wish of ending their life.
The physician also shows respect to the patient when they give the patient their right to determine what path they wish to take for their remainder days. A vice that can come of this practice of assisted suicide is abuse. Abuse can occur when the prognosis is spreads to those who do not have the prognosis of six months or less to live, or those who are not coherent enough to make the choice of the assisted suicide. The physician must articulate the ethical problem. He must communicate with the patient and the family the current situation, the options and the possible outcomes.
Data must be presented in the situation as well. For example the family’s religious beliefs should be brought into play, financial issues, and the families moral ethics should be considered. The next thing to do is to explore the strategies. Everyone should look at this situation and know what the options are and what each outcome would be. They also need to look at why they would be considering it. For example, the patient and the family could both agree that they wish for the assisted suicide because it will end the suffering of the patient, even though the outcome would be death.
The next step is to implement the strategy. With whichever choice they make, they start taking that step towards their decision. The final step is to evaluate the outcomes. The patient is no longer alive, not longer suffering; and the family may be grieving. They also know that the patient is no longer suffering and is “happier”. One important code of ethics for nursing is for the nurse to provide respect for human dignity. This comes from a Christian Philosophical background. Every person has different values, integrity, and has their own empowerment.
Genesis 1:27, so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them. A second code of ethics for nursing is to ensure the primacy of the patient’s interests. As Parse states, “structuring meaning is the imaging and valuing of languaging,” (Parse, 2014, p. 37). Patients state their wishes based on what their values are and the quality of life they believe they will have. They are putting meaning to their life and are expressing their values in hopes that the provider can successfully meet those wishes. Physicians take an oath to value human life when they recite the Hippocratic Oath.
Part of the oath is to relieve pain and suffering from patients. Physicians also take an oath to preserve lives and that they will do all in their power to do so. Laws and guidelines are written to protect the patient and the physician. This can help prevent any potential for abuse of the system and gives everyone the equal right to the option of assisted suicide who qualifies for it. A nurse is “forbidden under the Code of Ethics form acting with the sole intent of ending a patient’s life even though such action may be motivated by compassion,” (Palmer, 2010).
Patients have the right to dignity. They have the right to determine their own quality of life. People as a whole have the moral right to choose freely what they will do with their lives as long as they inflict no harm into others. There are currently five states California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Vermont that legalized physician assisted suicide. Death is a very personal decision. Every patient who is diagnosed with a terminal illness with a time frame of less than six month should know they have option to physician assisted suicide, along with other options like palliative care.
Twenty percent of physicians receive a request for physician assisted suicide sometime during their career, and between five and twenty percent of those requests are eventually honored,” (Hosseini, 2012). Patient are allowed to stop all treatments to end their life, they should be allowed to prevent any unbearable suffering by controlling when and how they die with dignity. “Public Opinion polls suggest that a majority of people favor legalization,” (Meier & Emmons, 1998). The ethical principle of beneficence should be followed, which is to “do the greatest good possible,” (Hosseini, 2012).
To the patient, the best option for them could be to end their life via assisted suicide to prevent any further suffering. Everyone has the right to choose what care they will receive from their physician. “There is nobility in suffering bravely borne, but also in affirming at the end the distinctive human dignity of autonomous choice,” (Will, 2015). Not every patient will want to use the option of physician-assisted suicide, but every patient should have the option available for him or her. Nurses are there to help people in their time of need. Nurses are a patient’s best advocate and should support any decision a patient makes.
Watching someone go from playing baseball one month, so becoming ill the next month, to becoming bed ridden and writhing in pain the next month is hard to watch. When the person is sitting there saying they are in so much pain they just want to die, is hard to watch. The palliative care is not working any more; the inevitable is going to happen, why not shorten the pain and suffering and offer the assisted suicide? Physician assisted suicide is only available in certain states for patients who are terminally ill and have six months or less left to live.
They are given many different options along with the assisted suicide. There are laws set in place to prevent abuse of the system, equal opportunities, and strict requirements to qualify for this option. Patients have the right to autonomy with their health care management. Patients have the right to refuse treatment to end their life; they should have the right to choose assisted suicide. Everyone deserves to choose what quality of life they wish to live, and if chosen, they deserve to die with dignity.