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Discontinuation of Dialysis Is Not Euthanasia

Discontinuation of Dialysis Is Not Euthanasia Abstract In a recent editorial, Carlson and Shahryar1 assert that the discontinuation of dialysis is "a unique form of euthanasia." They are wrong, or at least outdated in their vocabulary, if they equate the withdrawal of life support with euthanasia. Do they really believe that no moral difference exists between withdrawing dialysis and administering a lethal dose of potassium chloride? While some philosophers argue that no difference exists,2 many do not.3,4 Two important moral differences exist between allowing a patient to die and killing a patient: the cause of death and the intent of the physician. In respect to the cause of death, when death follows a lethal dose of medication, the medication administered by the physician is the efficient cause of the patient's death. When death follows the discontinuation of dialysis, end-stage renal disease is the efficient cause of the patient's death. The physician withdraws a therapy References 1. Carlson RW, Shahryar SK. Quality of death after discontinuation of dialysis. Arch Intern Med . 1995;155:13.Crossref 2. Brock D. Voluntary active euthanasia. Hastings Cent Rep . (March-April) 1992; 22:10-22.Crossref 3. Kass L. 'I will give no deadly drug': why doctors must not kill. Am Coll Surg Bull . 1992;77:6-17. 4. Gillett G. Killing, letting die and moral perception. Bioethics . 1994;8:312-328.Crossref 5. Beauchamp TL, Childress JF. Principles of Biomedical Ethics . 4th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc; 1994:206-221. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archives of Internal Medicine American Medical Association

Discontinuation of Dialysis Is Not Euthanasia

Archives of Internal Medicine , Volume 155 (15) – Aug 7, 1995

Discontinuation of Dialysis Is Not Euthanasia

Abstract

Abstract In a recent editorial, Carlson and Shahryar1 assert that the discontinuation of dialysis is "a unique form of euthanasia." They are wrong, or at least outdated in their vocabulary, if they equate the withdrawal of life support with euthanasia. Do they really believe that no moral difference exists between withdrawing dialysis and administering a lethal dose of potassium chloride? While some philosophers argue that no difference exists,2 many do not.3,4 Two important moral...
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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 1995 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
0003-9926
eISSN
1538-3679
DOI
10.1001/archinte.1995.00430150177019
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract In a recent editorial, Carlson and Shahryar1 assert that the discontinuation of dialysis is "a unique form of euthanasia." They are wrong, or at least outdated in their vocabulary, if they equate the withdrawal of life support with euthanasia. Do they really believe that no moral difference exists between withdrawing dialysis and administering a lethal dose of potassium chloride? While some philosophers argue that no difference exists,2 many do not.3,4 Two important moral differences exist between allowing a patient to die and killing a patient: the cause of death and the intent of the physician. In respect to the cause of death, when death follows a lethal dose of medication, the medication administered by the physician is the efficient cause of the patient's death. When death follows the discontinuation of dialysis, end-stage renal disease is the efficient cause of the patient's death. The physician withdraws a therapy References 1. Carlson RW, Shahryar SK. Quality of death after discontinuation of dialysis. Arch Intern Med . 1995;155:13.Crossref 2. Brock D. Voluntary active euthanasia. Hastings Cent Rep . (March-April) 1992; 22:10-22.Crossref 3. Kass L. 'I will give no deadly drug': why doctors must not kill. Am Coll Surg Bull . 1992;77:6-17. 4. Gillett G. Killing, letting die and moral perception. Bioethics . 1994;8:312-328.Crossref 5. Beauchamp TL, Childress JF. Principles of Biomedical Ethics . 4th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc; 1994:206-221.

Journal

Archives of Internal MedicineAmerican Medical Association

Published: Aug 7, 1995

References