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Right To Die Essay

838 words - 4 pages

The very concept of individual rights is always complex, and even more so in the case of the right to die. While the Patient Self Determination Act ensures the patient the right to stop treatment, there is a serious moral and ethical question involved with whether the individual has the right to entangle the lives and careers of others in what they perceive to be the right to die. The controversy last year over whether to withdraw a feeding tube from a thirty-nine-year-old Florida woman with severe brain damage has forced questions regarding end-of-life decisions into the limelight once again. That debate had been intensified by divergent opinions about the woman's possibility of ...view middle of the document...

With more and more patients having to endure longer and more painful treatments for life-threatening diseases, it was inevitable that many would want to stop treatment and die with what they perceive to be their dignity left intact. Unfortunately, unless these patients actually commit suicide alone, they are asking family members and health care professionals to assist them in the dying process, either passively, by withholding treatment, or actively, by providing them with the means to end their lives.
The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) was enacted in 1990 and went into effect in 1991. This law gives patients the right to make end of life decisions for themselves and requires hospitals to give them the information and forms they need to do so. On the surface of it, this seems to be a straightforward law. Hospitals, physicians, and nurses know exactly where they stand and what the law requires of them. Yet, 25% of the respondents to a survey in RN recently reported that they have seen healthcare providers deliberately disregard the advance directives of patients and more than half of the ICU/CCU nursing respondents claim that they have witnessed such occurrences (Tammelleo, 2000). This places nurses in a very difficult position with respect to requirements under the Patient Self-Determination Act, with respect to insubordination issues, and with respect to their professional roles as both patient educator and advocate. It also spells serious legal trouble...

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