Experiences and attitudes towards end-of-life decisions amongst Danish physicians.

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In this survey we have investigated the experiences and attitudes of Danish physicians regarding end-of-life decisions. Most respondents have made decisions that involve hastening the death of a patient, and almost all find it acceptable to do so. Such decisions are made more often, and considered ethically more acceptable, with the informed consent of the patient than without. But both non-resuscitation decisions, and decisions to provide pain relief in doses that will shorten the patient's life, have been made and found acceptable by at least 50% of the respondents, even when there is no informed consent. Furthermore, 12% have doubled morphine dosages with fixed intervals, thus providing doses substantially higher than that necessary to control pain, without the informed consent of the patient. Two percent have helped in assisted suicide, and 5% have administered a lethal injection at the patient's request. Respectively 37% and 34% find these last two practices ethically acceptable. Amongst those that do not find them acceptable, the most important reasons to be opposed are, the doctrine of double effect, the doctrine of doing and allowing, and the view that human life is sacred. Amongst supporters, the most important reasons mentioned are, that the patient's right to self-determination should be respected, the view that a patient should not be forced to suffer, and the view that the patient has a right to be helped to a dignified death.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)233-49
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 1996

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Analgesics, Opioid; Attitude; Data Collection; Denmark; Double Effect; Ethics; Euthanasia; Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary; Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Humans; Informed Consent; Intention; Motivation; Pain; Palliative Care; Pharmaceutical Preparations; Physicians; Resuscitation Orders; Right to Die; Suicide, Assisted; Terminal Care; Terminally Ill

ID: 1550575