Tuesday, July 11, 2006


A recent decline and death of a very old relative has again got me asking questions about the morality and details of euthanasia. Some careful but private observations about this particular case has answered some for me.
1. If you were a doctor in a similar position to make decisions, would you make the same decisions? Yes, I probably would.
2. Do you consider the treatments completely legal? Yes. Everything was done by the book for palliative care.
3. Do you consider the treatment observed of very ill elderly patients as moral? No. It seems to me that most decisions were most likely to hasten decline rather than extend a comfortable but bed-ridden life. If these decisions were made on a much younger patient with the same ailments, at the minimum the doctors would be guilty of gross negligence, if not murder.

The real question is why I am satisfied at a system that gives the doctors power over life and death like this? This is basically because of limited resources and priority to use them. Also there are diminishing returns with the very elderly. Hastening death in declining patients leaves more beds and resources for patients with better long term prospects, like people my age. This is why I will refuse to go to hospital when I am old.

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