Physician-assisted suicide is a situation where the physician assists the patient to end his/her life due to an uncontrollable health condition. When a patient is suffering a chronic disease, which cannot be healed at a particular time or cannot heal completely can request a specific prescription of drugs to end his life to avoid much-prolonged pain. In the scenario, the doctor intends to hasten the dying process of the patient knowingly (Copeland, 87). Sometimes the condition is commonly referred to as euthanasia, but it is different. Some laws and regulations have been set to address the issue of whether physician-assisted suicide is valid and lawful or not. There should be some palliative care and trials in all means before assisting the patient to die. This death shortcut should be the last alternative when all sorts of palliative care have failed to bear fruits (Copeland, 87). Some people have argued that patients have a right for physician-assisted death (PAD); they imply that patients should be allowed to decide what they wish to happen to their lives. This essay analyses the causal and effect relationship that will result in the case of granting people the rights to physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) can be caused by the fact that there is no available care for the victim patient. Then, this is not the fact; several palliative care strategies can be effectively utilized to ensure that lives of patients are prolonged rather than shortened. It is not something that can be advocated to have the patients’ lives shortened and yet there are care services that can be incorporated to assist patients to recover from acute suffering (Ardelt, 425). There are quality end-of-life programs available through many hospitals. The focus should not be whether to legalize and give patients a right to decide for their lives, but it should be aiming to provide services that guarantee life for patients. The emphasis should be trying to improve hospital care. There are more than 4000 hospital agencies in the United States, but due to regulations and strict laws and the rigidity nature of the Medicare hospital cover requirements patients to possess a life expectancy of six months or less, many people in the USA fail to access these services (Ardelt, 427). If the trend continues, then definitely there will be more PAS scenarios and people will be committed to fighting for their rights to die through physician-assisted method. In the US, there is excellent terminal care, which is readily available in many hospitals. Every individual in all states has access to hospital care when they require it. This is made available for people of all ages, either the elderly, children, rich, poor and even the mortal people. A significant number of individuals who die in the US die under the care and the umbrella of hospital premises (Ardelt, 429). The fact is not because there is no sufficient care in the US hospitals; it is not because, in America, terminally ill patients are beyond control, no, this is simply because PAS has been legalized by many states. Making the doctors lazy in the administration of required care, hence assisting patients to die early.
It is evident that at some point, PAS can be recommended for the patient who is terminally ill and experiencing acute pain, but still, we need to look at it adverse effect in the healthcare industry. There is a possibility that advocating for PAS will make many physicians to cause more harm than good. First, physician-assisted suicide is not the core aim of a doctor, professionally. The sole role of a physician is to support the good health of a patient and assist the patient as much as possible to ensure prolonged healthy life. Permitting PAS publicly will make the doctors lazy in the provision of quality palliative care services, which are aimed to support quality life (Boudreau, Donald & Margaret, 129). The situation of PAS should only be extended to the incompetent victims and other vulnerable conditions in particular populations (Ardelt, 434). The involvement of physicians in PAS raises the question of ethical medical practice. The physician should not assume that facilitating the death of a patient is a unique role, it is not something to recommend but to avoid at all cost.
There are consequences associated with the legalization of PAS due to its effect on patient care management. First, advocating for physician-assisted suicide is not the fundamental role of doctors and nurses as a professional (Boudreau, Donald & Margaret, 129). The role of a physician is to use the skills and knowledge acquired to help patients recover, despite the pain or the condition the patient is going through. Facilitating early termination of life is equated like killing by intension. Secondly providing PAS prescriptions does not require any scientific expertise as compared to chemotherapy prescription, which demands a specific skill (Ardelt, 434). PAS provision is less expertise. The physician should nor present PAS prescriptions to the patient because the patients demand so. Instead, the physician should ensure those who are in pain are relived, and the measure of their health is preserved to help them bear the painful circumstance (Boudreau, Donald & Margaret, 137). The physician should be there for the patient to console, cure and relieve pain from the patient, not to prescribe faster possible means of terminating life.
Another possible effect can be on the slippery slope whereby there is the legalization of PAS. The legislate and provide rights for the patient to terminate his life through the physician-assisted method can be very unfortunate to the patients. The legislation of PAS indicates that any terminal ill patient can be disposed to death; this scenario will lead to a demised life support and protection (Boudreau, Donald & Margaret, 145). The physicians will list this method as one way of caring for patients with chronic diseases like cancer. It is clear that the legalization justifies euthanasia. It should be noted that denial of euthanasia accords life its respect and sanctity.
In consideration of the effect that can be caused by the legislation of physician-assisted suicide, indeed the consequences are adverse. The result will be the reckless handling of terminally ill patients by doctors. Secondly, the value of life will be diminished in case a patient is terminally ill; physicians will not play their professional role of therapeutic services. Avoiding PAS will grant cancer patients and other terminal ill patients to survive through the available clinical care and protect their lives.
Ardelt, Monika. “Physician-assisted death.” Handbook of death and dying 1 (2003): 424-434.
Boudreau, Donald J., and Margaret A. Somerville. “Physician-assisted Suicide Should Not Be
Permitted: option 1.” The New England Journal of Medicine 368.15 (2013): 114-145.
Kopelman, Loretta M. “Does physician-assisted suicide promote liberty and compassion?.”
Physician-Assisted Suicide: What are the Issues?. Springer, Dordrecht, 2001. 87-102.