When Patients Choose to End Their Lives

Ms. Rehm said that her goal is that no patient has to fall prey to her husband’s inexperience at the end of her life. She described her death as “excruciating to the witness”, even though the absence of food and water was usually quite tolerable for the patient after about two days.

Dr., a palliative care physician at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California. Jessica Nutik Zitter said in an interview, “The concept of medical aid in dying is gaining acceptance, but it takes a little time for people to get comfortable with it. Doctors are trained to just add technology to patient care, regardless of the outcome, and take back the technology we are taught. “

As a result, doctors can convince dying patients and their families to accept “treatments that suffer terrible consequences”, Drs. Zitter called the book’s author “Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the Life of the End”. In her experience, a fear of losing control is the main reason that patients request medical help in dying, but when they have good palliative care, this fear often spreads.

Only a third of patients who qualify for medical aid in dying actually use the life-saving drugs they received, he said, explaining that once given the option, they would gain a sense of autonomy And are no longer afraid of losing control. in A study of 3,368 prescriptions for deadly drugs Written under laws in Oregon and Washington state, the most common cause of medical aid in dying was loss of autonomy (87.4%); Impaired quality of life (86.1 percent), and loss of dignity (68.6 percent).

Of course, many doctors consider medical aid in dying contrary to their training, religious beliefs, or philosophy of life. A pediatrician in Washington, DC, Drs. Joan Lane, who is not a supporter, said the emphasis should be on providing better care for those who are very ill, disabled or elderly.

“We should be opposed to medical aid until we die that we can offer people a real choice of a well-supported, meaningful and comfortable existence who would have chosen a medically assisted death,” Dr. Lynn said. “There is currently no strong push for complacency in long-term care. This is not a real option if a person’s option is living in misery or spoiling the family. “

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choice, a nonprofit organization in Portland, Ore., That wants to expand final life choices, said, “The main principle of medical aid in dying is self-determination for someone very sick. . “

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