Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How to Spin Euthanasia as Palliative Care

Time Magazine's report on a tiny medical study (which, in the world of real research, counts as much as you or I asking random strangers questions to which they may or may not know the answer) that some parents consider ending their suffering childs' lives does a snow job on mixing palliative care with euthanasia. They are two very different ideas - palliative care is keeping patients comfortable and pain-free, understanding that in doing so death may sometimes occur, and euthanasia which is the deliberate act of using medication with the express and only aim of killing the patient.

Study: Parents Weigh Hastening End for Dying Children
Watching a child suffer from a fatal illness is undoubtedly one of the greatest agonies a parent can face. Less discussed, however, are the lengths to which a parent may be willing to go to end such pain.
An intriguing new study led by doctors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston aimed to explore that question through a series of interviews conducted with 141 parents whose children had died of cancer. The study reports that 19 parents said they had thought about asking a doctor to hasten their child's death and that 13 parents actually discussed it with caregivers. When asked by the study authors, an additional 34% of the parents said that in retrospect, they would have considered intentionally ending their child's life if the child had been in uncontrollable pain. "The fear of pain is the critical factor for parents with regard to hastening death," says Dr. Joanna Wolfe, one of the study's authors and the director of pediatric palliative care at Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital Boston. more

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