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Category: Societal Issues

Date Submitted: 05/30/2008 07:36 AM

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This paper is going to examine ‘euthanasia’ in relation to palliative care nursing, were the author was on a placement during the last semester of the second year. Palliative care as defined by World Health Organisation (WHO, 2003) is an approach that improves the quality of patients’ lives and their families, who are facing life limiting illnesses. Euthanasia was chosen because the author wanted to gain knowledge as part of personal and professional development during training. During past clinical placements the author noted that euthanasia was not a widely discussed topic by health care professionals (HCPs). This is supported by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) (2005) suggesting that often euthanasia is not fully understood by HCPs. In addition, because it continues to be a hotly debated topic in healthcare setting (Paterson, 2003). If legalised, it is estimated that thirteen thousand deaths a year could be a result of euthanasia in the United Kingdom (UK) (Paterson, 2003). To form a basis of the topic area, a guide question has been formulated as, ‘should euthanasia be legalised’?

The first part will provide a definition of euthanasia; in addition it will look at why terminally ill people opt for euthanasia by using the cues for quality as identified by Fallowfield (1990), however only the three cues, namely physical, psychological and social will be considered. The second part will examine the nurse’s role in requests for aid in dying from patients and relate it to the author’s current clinical placement. Furthermore, influencing opinions on the euthanasia debate will be considered by taking into account professional, ethical, legal and religious issues in the UK and around the world. Part three will examine the views of the proponents and opponents of euthanasia. The main points will be drawn into a conclusion.

A wealth of literature has been published on euthanasia and various definitions have come forth regarding this complex act. It should be...