There are a substantial number of cases in which physicians are obliged to provide life-sustaining treatment with potentially aggressive delivery methods or with incomplete information about the patient. Such treatments are described as care that sustains the life of a patient who is in danger of a fatal outcome due to their condition (Ambardekar, 2019). Though the care aims to return the patient to an acceptable state of health, if it does not do so, actions may be taken to discontinue it. Because it is the underlying disease that can result in the patient’s death, withdrawal or withholding from treatment is not considered illegal or immoral. The treatment may result in the person’s life being saved and the physiological well-being of their family. However, it can also prolong an inevitable death, cause pain, and disrespect the patient’s values.
Similarly, euthanasia offers advantages and disadvantages in medical care. Assisted dying allows for the patient to end prolonged suffering, physical or other, and death on the patient’s terms and with a sense of dignity (Young et al., 2018). However, many argue it is a breach of civil law and a potential danger to philosophy within the medical field. ‘Do not resuscitate’, or DNR, orders have a similar nature. When implemented, they may offer the patient or victim a peaceful or natural death and no prolonged, aggressive treatment (Shakoor et al., 2020). But on a more negative note, living wills that specify the DNR order may be vague and require interpretations for clinical providers to know the accurate decision of the patient.
In current practice, it is essential that the family of the patient and medical professionals make a joint decision on the treatment of the patient. The family has the ability to decide their level of involvement. Doctors will advise the family members when there is no hope for recovery, usually in cases of a total loss of organ function, to consider withdrawal from life support (Ambardekar, 2019). It is also important that they consider the patient’s wishes on the matter. In cases of adult decision-makers, they must meet the standards for decision-making capacities in order to decide on the clinical procedure of their family member, client, or close friend (the State of Queensland, 2018). Children who request euthanasia must still receive the parent’s permission, this is similar if a child is on life-support or other life-sustaining therapy even if they have the ability to make decisions.
Ambardekar, N. (2019). What Is Life Support? WebMD. Web.
Shakoor, M., T., Ahad, A., Ayub, S., & Kruer, J. (2020). Suicide and “do not resuscitate”: An ethical dilemma. Clinical Ethics. Web.
State of Queensland. (2018). End-of-life care: Guidelines for decision-making about withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining measures from adult patients. Web.
Young, J., Egan, R., Walker, S., Graham-DeMello, A., & Jackson, C. (2018). The euthanasia debate: synthesizing the evidence on New Zealander’s attitudes. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 14(1), 1-21. Web.