Ethical Issues with regard to Euthanasia

Essay by pauloliverUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2013

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In this essay, I will be describing an ethical dilemma with regard to euthanasia, and the ethical principles that will guide a nurse to make an ethical decision in the best interests of the patient without compromising or her own professionalism.

Mdm. X is a single woman living alone in a one room flat. She used to earn about $1800 per month. Due to a stroke, Mrs. X is in a partially parlysed state and on life support in the high dependency unit (HDU) ward. She has requested to be euthanised.



The word euthanasia is made up of two Greek words. "Eu" in greek means good, and "thanatos" means death. Together, euthanasia can be roughly translated as having a "good death" (Fillippo, 1992). Euthanasia cannot be considered as killing, because killing forcefully taking a life from somebody against their will.

(Humphry, 1986) Euthanasia can be classified in to two categories: passive and active. Passive euthanasia is allowing a person to die without the use of any life saving techniques or technology, allowing the person to die a natural death. Active euthanasia is the taking of positive steps toward ending the life of a terminally ill patient. In the past, the medical had almost full control of exercising their judgement when making decisions regarding their patient's medical health, however, in modern times, there is an increasing number of patients who seek to regain this control and make decisions for their own health. This has resulted in an increase in terminally ill patients requesting euthanasia (McCormack, 1998)


The first ethical principle that we may consider in this scenario is the most basic ethical principle, which is patient autonomy. According to Webster's New World Medical Dictionary, patient...