The purpose of this article is to analyze the main medical, legal, and ethical issues and challenges of euthanasia in the digital age. The methods that were used in this study are historical, logical, empirical, as well as comparative legal method for comparison of laws and practices of the EU and post-Soviet countries, including Ukraine. This choice determined by the fact that both groups of countries have common features and relations, while the features of their development affect approaches to regulating such sensitive and potentially open to abuse problems as euthanasia. There is no final legal answer as to whether to legalize, decriminalize or prohibit euthanasia in any of its forms. The features and legal terms of active and passive, voluntary and non-voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, especially for psychiatric and minor patients were researched, as well as conflicting arguments, which include individual autonomy, right to choose, the opportunity to get rid of suffering, as well as undermining the practice of palliative care, abuse in cases of vulnerable and dependent patients, moral burden on the doctors. The issue of control of the practice of euthanasia is complicated, given the extent to which it is possible to obtain informed consent, establish criteria for suffering and hopelessness, check the persistence, conviction and validity of requests for euthanasia, especially in the digital era. The potential legislation and judicial practice should provide for strict and effective guarantees, respect for the beliefs of each person and the right not to participate in any contentious practices, the balance of human rights and social values.
On June 19, 2019, euthanasia legislation in Victoria, Australia, came into effect. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) allows individuals whose life expectancy is 6 months or less to seek medical assistance to end their life. Patients with certain progressive neurodegenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or motor neuron disease, can apply within 1 year of their expected death. People with conditions that might hinder their decision-making capacity, such as advanced Alzheimer's disease, are excluded, as are people who have a mental illness or disability, without a terminal illness. By Dec 31, 2019, 52 people had voluntarily ended their lives using the new legislation.
French end-of-life law aims at protecting patients from unreasonable treatments, but has been used to force caregivers to prolong treatments deemed unreasonable. We describe six cases (five intensive care unit patients including two children) where families disagreed with a decision to withdraw treatments and sued medical teams. An emergent inquiry was instigated by the families. In two cases, the court rejected the families' inquiries. In two cases, the families appealed the decision, and in both the first jurisdiction decision was confirmed, compelling caregivers to pursue treatments, even though they deemed them unreasonable. We discuss how this law may be perverted. Legal procedures may result in the units' disorganisation and give rise to caregivers' stress. Families' requests may be subtended by religious beliefs. French end-of-life law has benefits in theoretically constraining physicians to withhold or withdraw disproportionate therapies. These cases underline some caveats and the perverse effects of its literal reading.
BACKGROUND: Some patients do not receive adequate pain and symptom relief at the end of life, causing distress to patients, families and healthcare professionals. It is unclear whether undertreatment of symptoms occurs, in part, because of nurses' concerns about legal and/or disciplinary repercussions if the patient dies after medication is administered.
AIM: The aim was to explore nurses' experiences and knowledge of the law relating to the provision of end-of-life pain and symptom relief.
DESIGN: Semi-structured interviews with nurses were assessed using a six-stage hybrid thematic analysis technique.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Four face-to-face and 21 telephone interviews were conducted with nurses who routinely prescribed and/or administered pain and symptom relief to patients approaching the end of their lives in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia.
RESULTS: While many nurses had no personal experiences with legal or professional repercussions after a patient had died, the fear of hastening death and being held accountable was frequently discussed and regarded as relevant to the provision of inadequate pain and symptom relief. Concerns included potential civil or criminal liability and losing one's job, registration or reputation. Two-thirds of participants believed that pain relief was sometimes withheld because of these legal concerns. Less than half of the interviewed nurses demonstrated knowledge of the doctrine of double effect, the legal protection for health professionals who provide end-of-life pain and symptom relief.
CONCLUSION: Education is urgently required to strengthen nurses' knowledge of the legal protections supporting the provision of appropriate palliative medication, thereby improving their clinical practice with end-of-life patients.
Although death by neurologic criteria (brain death) is legally recognized throughout the United States, state laws and clinical practice vary concerning three key issues: (1) the medical standards used to determine death by neurologic criteria, (2) management of family objections before determination of death by neurologic criteria, and (3) management of religious objections to declaration of death by neurologic criteria. The American Academy of Neurology and other medical stakeholder organizations involved in the determination of death by neurologic criteria have undertaken concerted action to address variation in clinical practice in order to ensure the integrity of brain death determination. To complement this effort, state policymakers must revise legislation on the use of neurologic criteria to declare death. We review the legal history and current laws regarding neurologic criteria to declare death and offer proposed revisions to the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) and the rationale for these recommendations.
Par une décision très attendue, la Cour constitutionnelle italienne a dépénalisé l’assistance au suicide dans certaines hypothèses et sous certaines conditions bien déterminées. Elle s’est prononcée en ce sens après avoir, par une précédente décision, imparti un délai au législateur pour qu’il adopte une loi en matière de fin de vie. Considérant l’inertie de ce dernier, la Cour fait preuve d’équilibrisme dans sa seconde décision, oscillant entre garantie des droits fondamentaux et respect du pouvoir discrétionnaire du Parlement. Par ces deux décisions, les juges constitutionnels italiens ont ainsi mis en place une technique inédite pour parvenir, en deux étapes, aux mêmes effets qu’une déclaration d’inconstitutionnalité à effet différé, afin de ne pas laisser des droits fondamentaux dépourvus de garantie en raison de l’inaction du législateur.
OBJECTIVE: Irish legislation on Advance Healthcare Directives (Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act 2015, ADMC) proposes to change the basis of decision making from acting in the patient's best interests to following the expressed will and intentions of the patient. Refusal of life-saving care can occur, without sound reasons. The implications for care in life-threatening emergencies have not been explored among clinicians.
DESIGN: An anonymous questionnaire survey of Advanced Paramedics (AP) covering awareness of the legislation, attitudes to and experience of refusal of care and potential actions in emergency scenarios now and if the legislation were in force. The scenarios covered end-of-life and deliberate self-harm situations potentially requiring resuscitation.
SETTING: All 482 graduates of the Advanced Paramedic Training Programme were invited to take part.
RESULTS: Overall, 85/389 (21.9%) valid contacts responded, with demographic characteristics similar to the overall population. Attitudes ranged from highly positive to highly negative in relation to the potential impact of the legislation on professional and operational responsibilities. Respondents described marked changes in whether they would offer resuscitation if the ADMC were in place.
CONCLUSION: Irish legislation which changes the traditional basis of medical practice away from the best interests of the patient may affect the resuscitation practices of Advanced Paramedics in life-threatening situations. It has significant implications for medical education, professional practice and clinician-patient interactions. This legislation and similar planned legislation may have implications for other EU jurisdictions.
De plus en plus souvent, nous entendons parler d'euthanasie : que ce soit par les médias, par les politiques, par les services publics ou par diverses associations, la thématique est sur toutes les langues.
Cependant, force est de constater que le sujet est bien souvent abordé avec méconnaissance ou parti pris. Mon souhait est donc d'intervenir dans cet ouvrage pour décrire le plus fidèlement possible la très dure réalité qui entoure le processus d'euthanasie.
Non, la vie dans nos hôpitaux n'est pas - ou n'est plus - un long fleuve tranquille. Elle est en crue permanente, avec de nombreux débordements quotidiens. En tant que membre du personnel soignant, je constate combien il nous est difficile à nous, infirmiers, médecins, psychologues, assistants sociaux, de garder la tête hors de l'eau, lorsqu'il est question de ce qu'on appelle pompeusement "éthique".
En 2015, un long article dans le prestigieux The New Yorker a de nouveau attiré l'attention sur la pratique de l'euthanasie en Belgique, et particulièrement en Flandre. La journaliste Rachel Aviv y donne la parole à trois personnes : chacune, de façon abrupte et tragique, a perdu sa mère par euthanasie. La journaliste cite également quelques réactions des médecins concernés, et interroge des intellectuels faisant autorité dans notre pays. Rachel Aviv ne condamne pas, elle enregistre, observe, donne ses impressions et montre beaucoup d'empathie pour ces personnes profondément blessées. Ce récit touchant confirme ce que bon nombre de Belges savent déjà : l'expérimentation sociale de l'euthanasie, suite à la loi de 2002, n'est pas le récit à succès auquel certains voudraient nous faire croire.
Death is ubiquitous and inevitable. Many of us have had some experience with death in our personal lives, and as clinicians and researchers, we address death either directly or indirectly, almost every day. Still, there remains significant debate and gaps in knowledge regarding the biology of death, as well as the medical and ethical issues concerning death and dying. This multi-disciplinary issue of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine is devoted to exploring the major advances and unresolved questions about death. We present 25 articles representing contributions from researchers that examine death at different biological scales and that provide legal, medical, and ethical perspectives on the process of dying.
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Current efforts to legalize medical aid-in-dying in this country follow a half century of remarkable legal developments regarding when, how, and on whose terms to intervene to prevent death and extend life in critically and terminally ill patients. The starting point-which I call the first stage along the path-was the creation in the two decades following World War II of powerful means of keeping very ill, and typically unconscious, patients alive. The second stage began in the late 1960s as physicians (and then others in society) began to grapple with the consequences of maintaining such patients on life-support indefinitely. Over five decades, judicial decisions, followed by implementing statutes and regulations, transformed legal rights and medical practices. Are the current developments-which center on legalizing medical aid-in-dying-a third stage along the same path, or do the striking differences between the issues raised about life-sustaining treatment and euthanasia suggest that they are separate? What lessons might those proceeding along the aid-in-dying path take from the development of the other path, and if the two paths are still distinct today, might they merge in the future?
The question of a physician's involvement in aid in dying (or "assisted suicide") is being debated across the country. This article adopts no one position because its authors hold contrasting views. It aims instead to articulate the strongest arguments in favor of aid in dying and the strongest arguments opposed. It also addresses relevant terminology and reviews the history of its legalization in the United States.
The goal of this work is to assess the beliefs of US physicians about the national legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). We sent a survey to 1000 randomly chosen physicians from around the US. Our survey indicates that 60% of physicians thought PAS should be legal, and of that 60%, 13% answered "yes" when asked if they would perform the practice if it were legal. Next, 49% of physicians agreed that most patients who seek PAS do so because of pain, and 58% agreed that the current safeguards in place for PAS, in general, are adequate to protect patients. With respect to specific safeguards, 60% disagreed with the statement that physicians who are not psychiatrists are adequately trained to screen for depression in patients seeking PAS, and 60% disagreed with the idea that physicians can predict with certainty whether a patient seeking PAS has 6 months or less to live. Finally, about one-third (30%) of physicians thought that the legalization of PAS would lead to the legalization of euthanasia, and 46% agreed that insurance companies would preferentially cover PAS over possible life-saving treatments if PAS was legalized nationally. Our survey results suggest several conclusions about physicians' beliefs about PAS. The first is that there is a discrepancy between willingness to endorse and willingness to practice PAS. Second, physicians are generally misinformed with regard to why patients seek PAS, and they are uncertain about the adequacy of safeguards. Third, physicians are still wary of the slippery slope with respect to the legalization of PAS nationwide.
CONTEXT: A central approach of palliative care has been to provide holistic care for people who are dying, terminally ill or facing life-limiting illnesses while neither hastening nor postponing death. Assisted dying laws allow eligible individuals to receive medically administered or self-administered medication from a health provider to end their life. The implementation of these laws in a growing number of jurisdictions therefore poses certain challenges for palliative care.
OBJECTIVES: To analyse the research literature about the relationship of assisted dying with palliative care, in countries where it is lawful.
METHODS: A five-stage scoping review process was adapted from the Joanna Briggs Institute. Data sources searched through October 2018 were MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, SCOPUS, and ProQuest dissertations and theses, with additional material identified through hand searching. Research studies of any design were included, but editorials or opinion articles were excluded.
RESULTS: After reviewing 5778 references from searches, 105 were subject to full-text review. 16 studies were included: from Belgium (4), Canada (1), Switzerland (2) and the United States (9). We found the relationship between assisted dying and palliative care practices in these locations took varied and sometimes combined forms: supportive, neutral, coexisting, not mutually exclusive, integrated, synergistic, cooperative, collaborative, opposed, ambivalent and conflicted.
CONCLUSION: The studies in this review cast only partial light on challenges faced by palliative care when assisted dying is legal. There is pressing need for more research on the involvement of palliative care in the developing practices of assisted dying, across a growing number of jurisdictions.
Ce numéro comprend les articles suivants : brain death at fifty: exploring consensus, controversy, and contexts ; would a reasonable person now accept the 1968 Harvard brain death report? A short history of brain death ; a path not taken: beecher, brain death, and the aims of medicine ; Beecher dépassé: fifty years of determining death, legally ; a conceptual justification for brain death ; brain death: a conclusion in search of a justification ; conceptual issues in DCDD donor death determination ; DCDD ddonors are not dead ; uncontrolled DCD: when should we stop trying to save the patient and focus on saving the organs? ; a defense of the dead donor rule ; the dead donor rule as policy indoctrination ; the public's right to accurate and transparent information about brain death and organ transplantation ; brain death and the law: hard cases and legal challenges ; rethinking brain death as a legal fiction: is the terminology the problem? ; respecting choice in definitions of death ; imposing death: religious witness on brain death ; death: an evolving, normative concept ; lessons from the case of Jahi McMath ; the case of Jahi McMath: a neurologist's view ; revisiting death: implicit bias and the case of Jahi MMath.
La loi Claeys-Leonetti a trois ans. Elle consacre la sédation profonde et continue jusqu’au décès dans certaines circonstances, elle rend contraignantes les directives anticipées pour le corps médical, et elle établit un vrai contrat de confiance entre le patient et sa personne de confiance. Dans un contexte de méconnaissance de cette loi, un sentiment de « mal mourir » persiste. Notamment, le choix d’un terme de pronostic vital engagé à quelques heures ou jours est perçu comme trop restrictif pour certains patients souffrant psychiquement ou physiquement dans les suites d’une maladie aiguë ou chronique. L’arrêt de la nutrition et de l’hydratation pose également des problèmes d’interprétation qui mériteraient d’être précisés. Cela conduit à une demande d’évolution législative vers l’euthanasie ou l’assistance au suicide. Une telle évolution, déjà pratiquée au Benelux depuis presque 20 ans non sans que le débat y persiste, doit être bien soupesée pour éviter les pièges d’une conception utilitariste de la vie. Mais elle doit aussi être posée en regard de la demande croissante d’autonomie qui ne constitue qu’une réponse logique et respectable aux progrès vertigineux de la médecine. Les priorités actuelles sont, d’une part, d’informer et de discuter des possibilités données par la loi actuelle et, d’autre part, de mettre en œuvre une politique globale diminuant les situations où le sentiment d’indignité de la fin de vie est prégnant. Les équipes de réanimation, par les conséquences proches comme plus lointaines de leur décision, sont et doivent rester au cœur de cette réflexion.
Brain death, or the determination of death by neurological criteria, has been described as a legal fiction. Legal fictions are devices by which the law treats two analogous things (in this case, biological death and brain death) in the same way so that the law developed for one can also cover the other. Some scholars argue that brain death should be understood as a fiction for two reasons: the way brain death is determined does not actually satisfy legal criteria requiring the permanent cessation of all brain function, and brain death is not consistent with the biological conception of death as involving the irreversible cessation of the functioning of an organism as a whole. Critics counter that the idea that brain death is a legal fiction is deceptive and undemocratic. I will argue that diagnosing brain death as a hidden legal fiction is a helpful way to understand its historical development and current status. For the legal-fictions approach to be ethically justifiable, however, the fact that brain death is a legal fiction not aligned with the standard biological conception of death must be acknowledged and made transparent.
During a mental health crisis, patients with psychiatric diagnoses tend to suffer a loss of cognitive function and decision-making faculties. Psychiatric advance directives (PADs) are designed to ensure that these patients maintain some level of autonomy over their medical decisions even if they cannot retain decision-making power during a mental health crisis. This article explores the regulatory landscape surrouding PADs, including their legal foundation and barriers to their effective use in practice.
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Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the challenges anticipated by clinical staff in two Melbourne health services in relation to the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria, Australia.
Methods: A qualitative approach was used to investigate perceived challenges for clinicians. Data were collected after the law had passed but before the start date for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria. This work is part of a larger mixed-methods anonymous online survey about Victorian clinicians' views on voluntary assisted dying. Five open-ended questions were included in order to gather text data from a large number of clinicians in diverse roles. Participants included medical, nursing and allied health staff from two services, one a metropolitan tertiary referral health service (Service 1) and the other a major metropolitan health service (Service 2). The data were analysed thematically using qualitative description.
Results: In all, 1086 staff provided responses to one or more qualitative questions: 774 from Service 1 and 312 from Service 2. Clinicians anticipated a range of challenges, which included burdens for staff, such as emotional toll, workload and increased conflict with colleagues, patients and families. Challenges regarding organisational culture, the logistics of delivering voluntary assisted dying under the specific Victorian law and how voluntary assisted dying would fit within the hospital's overall work were also raised.
Conclusions: The legalisation of voluntary assisted dying is anticipated to create a range of challenges for all types of clinicians in the hospital setting. Clinicians identified challenges both at the individual and system levels.What is known about the topic? Voluntary assisted dying became legal in Victoria on 19 June 2019 under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017. However there has been little Victorian data to inform implementation.What does this paper add? Victorian hospital clinicians anticipate challenges at the individual and system levels, and across all clinical disciplines. These challenges include increased conflict, emotional burden and workload. Clinicians report concerns about organisational culture, the logistics of delivering voluntary assisted dying under the specific Victorian law and effects on hospitals' overall work. What are the implications for practitioners? Careful attention to the breadth of staff affected, alongside appropriate resourcing, will be needed to support clinicians in the context of this legislative change.