The Code of Ethics for Nurses clearly states that nurses are prohibited to participate in assisted suicide and euthanasia, it is ethically unacceptable. But Nurses are often in the best position to discuss end-of-life issues, they play a vital role in end-of-life care by advocating for their patients wishes and maintaining quality symptom management and support (Ignatavicius & Workman 2010). Euthanasia is legal in four states in the United States, these states are Oregano, Washington, Montana and Vermont. Terminally ill patients are able to request lethal medications under law. Most of these states require that the patients make two verbal request that are 15 days apart and also another request in writing with a witness. In Montana the law also states that the life expectancy of the patient has to be less than six months.
Also the patient must be a resident in the state that he/she wants to precipitate in euthanasia ( New Health Guide n.d). In the case of Terry Schiavo, she had no living will in place, her wishes were unclear and the family was forced to stop her tube feedings and let her die. The nurse’s role in this situation would be to be there to support the family, providing resources and making sure the patient dies a peaceful death. The stake holders in this scenario are the physicians, did they make the right diagnosis and decision, the family who lost a beloved member of their family, and also the society as a whole, it was a very well published case and raised questions regarding if the decision was ethically right.
In the scenario of Dax Cowart and Robert Burt, Dax was involved in a gas explosion that left him blinded and disabled. He wanted to stop all his agonizing treatments and die, even though he was competent, he was unable to refuse his treatments. In this situation nurses are obligated to give a competent patient the right to refuse treatment and respect the decision their patients make. The stakeholders in this scenario is the patient Dax who had to suffer through 15 months of treatment, and the doctors who went against his decision.
Ignatavicius, D. D., & Workman, M. L. (2010). Medical-surgical nursing: Patient-centered collaborative care (6th ed.). St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders. New Health Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.newhealthguide.org/Where-Is-Euthanasia-Legal.html
Purtilo, R., & Doherty, R. (2011). Ethical Dimensions in the Health Professions, 5th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://pageburstls.elsevier.com/books/978-1-4377-0896-7/id/B9781437708967000230 c0014
Euthanasia Ethics. (2014, September 26). Retrieved December 14, 2014 from http://www.euthanasiaethics.com/
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