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RMJ. 2007; 32(1): 82-84

Physician–assisted suicide and palliative sedation: A matter of intention

Kaiser Mahmood.

Physician-assisted suicide (PAS), a major form of euthanasia, has received much
attention of the public. As a matter of fact, it is not active euthanasia. In, PAS, Physician
does not inject a patient with death-causing drug as in active euthanasia but rather
provides patients with drugs that they will take themselves. It is thus a form of suicide.
The cardinal function of Palliative Care is to provide comfort care to the patient by
focusing on relieving symptoms such as pain and anxiety. Palliative sedation is the use of
sedative medications to relieved extreme pain by making the patient unaware and
unconscious while the disease takes it course, finally leading to death. In both PAS and
Palliative sedation the role of intention cannot be ignored. In PAS, physician is intending
to help cause the death of the patient and in palliative sedation, physician is not intending
to cause or shorten the life of the patient. (Rawal Med J 2007;32:82-84)

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