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The Patient's Wish to DieResearch, Ethics, and Palliative Care$
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Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Heike Gudat, and Kathrin Ohnsorge

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713982

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198713982.001.0001

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Issues of palliative medicine in end-of-life care

Issues of palliative medicine in end-of-life care

(p.177) Chapter 17 Issues of palliative medicine in end-of-life care
The Patient's Wish to Die

H. Christof Müller-Busch

Oxford University Press

When faced with a patient’s wish to die it is important to consider not just the patient’s problems, reflections, and values but also different illness trajectories at the end of life. Notwithstanding reservations about patient staging and the uncertainty of predicting lifespan it is of great practical relevance to adapt the intentions and principles of palliative interventions to the process of effective communication and thoughtful decision-making. How requests to hasten death are handled in palliative care depends very much on the stage of the patient’s illness. The principal goal of palliative care is the effective prevention and relief of suffering, with respect for autonomy, but not the elimination of the sufferer. The confrontation with patients asking for hastened death in palliative care is not only a medical and social challenge, but also a moral one, which is provocative but also offers a chance to reflect personal values.

Keywords:   palliative care, wish to die, decision-making, communication, patient staging, illness trajectories, relief of suffering, personal values

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