The risks of using continuous deep palliative sedation within the context of euthanasia
University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
Although palliative care is one of the main arguments among the opponents of euthanasia, the individual medical activities implemented within it are not always evaluated unequivocally. Considering that patient in such care centres arrives mainly at the last stages of the disease when intensive treatments are no longer able to help, to reduce discomfort and relieve pain caused by the disease, analgesic means can be used that can shorten the patient's life expectancy and cause death. Such undesirable consequences can be seen in the deep and continuous palliative sedation, which not only is the last resort for pain prevention process, but also is still quite debatable medical and legal doctrine, seeing in it a similarity to the so-called “easy death”, resulting in an unofficial name - “slow euthanasia”. It is therefore important to emphasize that deep and continuous palliative sedation is considered medically correct action only if its application is justified by the need to relieve the incurably ill person from the grievous pain and sufferings caused by the disease, not to cause death, and only when in certain clinical circumstances, it cannot be achieved by other means and methods. In all other cases, depending on the state fact matters, activities of a physician constitute either an active voluntary or non-voluntary euthanasia, which in most countries of the world is a subject to criminal sanctions.
Key words: Active voluntary euthanasia / active non-voluntary euthanasia / continuous deep palliative sedation / “double effect principle” / approbated procedures in medical theory and practice
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2016
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).