• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Euthanasia - an analysis of the theories and principles which guide healthcare practice and decision making.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

This essay is going to look at euthanasia. This will include an analysis of the theories and principles which guide healthcare practice and decision making, a discussion of the relevant codes of professional practice and the legislation that may guide practice and decision making. This essay will also include an evaluation of the effects of the ethical issue for the individual concerned, their family, health care workers and for wider society. Ethics are the principles on individual uses, in order to make decisions in life and when applying the values of a given profession. The value base informs the decision making process for the individual, but ethical principles also have to be used. There are different schools of thought regarding the function of professional ethics. Each school of thought will tackle situations in different ways. Utilitarianism, or consequentialism, was developed by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). A utilitarian will believe that a morally right act has to bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Utilitarians equate happiness with good, so a morally right act is one which creates the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Utilitarian philosophy holds that all knowledge comes from experience. It can be seen that utilitarian philosophy, like most ethics, involves making personal judgements, rather than following strict rules in a given situation. Ethical systems of thought always encounter problems. It is difficult sometimes to define what is good. How can you guarantee that all possible consequences have been considered prior to action being taken? The concept of the greatest good for the greatest number of people is not straightforward. The idea of creating the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people has to be used as a principle to guide the construction of codes of professional conduct, or for designing laws and systems of social regulation. Utilitarianism does not work very well when it is applied to day-to-day decisions, or day-to-day actions. ...read more.

Middle

There have been several attempts in recent years to introduce legislation on euthanasia but none has been successful. It is therefore not surprising that various professional bodies have issued comprehensive guidance on the basic moral principles that should guide practice. These cover withholding and withdrawing treatment as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The most important current guidelines are Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (1997), General Medical Council (2002) and British Medical Association (2001a, b). Although these guidelines vary in emphasis, several key moral principles emerge, in summary these are: treatment of patients should reflect the dignity of every person, irrespective of age, debility, dependence, race, colour or creed; actions must reflect the needs of the patient as well as their values, beliefs and priorities; life has a natural end; prolonging a patient's life usually, but not always, provides a health benefit to that patient but it is not an appropriate goal of medicine to prolong life at all costs with no regard to its quality or the burdens of treatment; although emotionally it may be easier to withhold treatment than to withdraw it, there is no morally relevant difference between the two actions. There are also some conflicts within the professional code of practice for example, in the Nursing & Midwifery Council Code of Professional Conduct, 3.2 states that 'you must respect patients' and clients' autonomy - their right to decide whether or not to undergo any health care intervention - even where a refusal may result in harm or death to themselves' but in 3.8 it states that 'where treatment is necessary to preserve life, you may provide care without patients' or clients' consent'. The principle of respect for autonomy acknowledges that patients have the right to control their own lives and so can decide when and how to die. This means that competent adults have the right to refuse life saving treatment. ...read more.

Conclusion

Doctors and hospital staff have the advantage of being used to seeing such things and having clinical detachment, friends and family do not. Advances in medical treatments have enabled us to keep people artificially alive, using respirators and methods of artificial feeding. Drugs used to try and control diseases can be very expensive; chemotherapy treatments used in the fight against cancer, for example, cost a great deal of money. There comes a point where these treatments are no longer offering therapeutic benefits, and they are merely prolonging the dying process. If the patient were to request euthanasia such treatments would not be given, thus saving a considerable amount of money. This money could be used to provide resources for people who have a chance of surviving, improving hospital facilities, buying more equipment - it could be used in ways that would save lives. People choosing euthanasia would in fact be helping society. The individual concerned may feel that dying would be the best option, for example, the elderly may feel pressured into requesting euthanasia as they see themselves as being a burden to society or they may have just had enough of the pain and suffering and would not want to go through anymore or for their families to see them go through anymore. In conclusion, euthanasia is a complex issue. There are many pros and cons towards legalising euthanasia, it would give people greater autonomy over their own lives and give terminally ill people a chance to avoid great pain and emotional distress. However, it begins the degradation of the prohibition of murder, and opens up the possibility of further erosion of the system. The death of a person affects the lives of others, often in ways and to an extent which cannot be foreseen. We believe that the issue of euthanasia is one in which the interest of the individual cannot be separated from the interest of society as a whole. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Healthcare section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Healthcare essays

  1. Medicine is the science and art of healing. Medicine is a science because it ...

    The medical revolution. Advances in science led to a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases during the 1900's. For example, the discovery of X rays by the German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 enabled doctors to "see" inside the human body to diagnose illnesses and injuries.

  2. Professional Autonomy and Accountability in Radiography

    Davis and Reeves (2006) have shown that few radiographers have little or no training in the area of Child Protection and are not aware of Child Care legislation or its implications for their working practices. It has been suggested by Davis and Reeves (2006)

  1. Free essay

    LMA vs the ET Tube

    and as described by Chethan et al (2008), it fills a niche between face mask and endotracheal tube both in terms of anatomical positioning and invasiveness. There is room for 'Practitioner choice' in healthcare which is backed by the HPC (2008)

  2. Advanced Anaesthetic Practice (AS1) "Critical Incident"

    Normal gut function rapidly returns following surgery. Coagulation. Post-operative deep vein thromboses and pulmonary emboli are less common following spinal anaesthesia. (Casey, 2000) Appendix 2 Disadvantages of Spinal Anaesthesia Difficult. To find the dural space and occasionally, impossible to obtain CSF.

  1. The aim of this assignment is to critically evaluate the biopsychosocial perspectives and influences ...

    Alcohol Research and Health, 27(1): p39-51. REEVES, J., 2005. The Medical Models: Health and Society. Common health: University of Auckland ROBSON, P., 2002. Forbidden Drugs, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press ROSENBERG, M., (1965) Society and the Adolescent Self Image. Princeton, Princeton University Press ROTH, S., and COHEN, L.J., 1986.

  2. Assisted Suicide

    Netherlands (voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide lawful since April 2002 but permitted by the courts since l984). Pro life vs. Right to Assisted Suicide Amid the existence or non existence of laws on assisted suicide; and the debates on the nuances of the terms assisted suicide and euthanasia, there lies the multifaceted issues on the matter of assisted suicide.

  1. An appraisal of a piece of research-based evidence relevant to healthcare practice - handwashing ...

    A key point of this study is that healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) continue to rise and it is essential to try and reduce this by increasing compliance. This study is a qualitative interpretive design. Interpretive qualitative designs are well suited to find out in-depth research and to explore human behaviour.

  2. I will discuss and identify a nursing skill whilst on placement. The nursing skill ...

    I supported him by my handling knowledge and talking at a low and calm voice I showed empathy by letting him choose his choose his cloths and wash gel. I reinforced him by letting him play his hand ball games he liked most eg the bowling game.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work