Drug Use in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

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Taylor & Francis, May 30, 1996 - Medical - 360 pages
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Drug Use in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia brings to the foreground of the controversy over euthanasia and assisted suicide not only the moral and legal issues, but also regulatory and empirical issues, issues of prudent public policy, and choice of drugs. You'll witness candid accounts of current practice, legal and extralegal, of drug use in assisted suicide and euthanasia, and be encouraged to objectively reexamine the issues that are at stake. With this book, you'll acquire a solid understanding of the array and complexity of the social questions faced by terminally ill patients, their physicians, nurses, and pharmacists. Drug Use in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia was chosen as one of Doody's "250 Best Health Sciences Books" for 1996!

Much of the focus of Drug Use in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia is on patient decisionmaking and the factors leading to a patient’s choice to hasten death. Readers learn from different medical perspectives, the key psychiatric, medical, and social factors that require assessment when terminally ill patients, such as those with AIDS or cancer, express the desire to die immediately. Readers are also introduced to issues about depression, pain, psychological distress, anxiety, organic mental disorders, and a variety of demographic and social variables. Among the important topics readers learn about are:

  • nursing perspectives on assisted suicide and euthanasia
  • end of life issues in patients with AIDS
  • Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act
  • current law on physician-assisted suicide
  • euthanasia and euthanizing drugs in the Netherlands
  • toxicological issues with drugs used to end life
  • when drugs fail to end life

Because euthanasia and assisted suicide do occur worldwide, it is crucial that the most appropriate, most expedient drugs be used and administered properly. This book dispels the myth, quite common in the United States, that morphine and benzodiazepines are the best drugs for ending life and points out the urgent need for research on drugs to be used for this purpose. Currently, as this book illustrates, there exists little reliable scientific data for identifying the fatal dose of a drug in humans, yet drugs are used daily to induce death, both successfully and unsuccessfully. Readers learn the many factors that can affect the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of a drug, and so intensify or reduce its toxicity.

Drug Use in Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia acts as a guide for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, persons suffering from fatal diseases, and their families and friends as they struggle with the moral, religious, and legal issues that accompany the idea of ending a life of suffering. The authors, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, gather the facts, issues, and arguments to allow those involved in the controversy, either publicly or privately, to make the most informed decision possible.

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