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Euthanasia and the Hippocratic Oath

Originally published by Be Unique on medium


Photo by Mimi Garcia on unsplash Life is precious. No one in their right mind and good health would even think about jeopardizing it. Death is the inevitable destiny for all the living in this world. Painful life is the enemy of dignity and dignity is the cornerstone of humanity So it must be addressed carefully. Death is perceived differently based on culture, religion and individual beliefs. Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, usually fueled by unconscious impulse as the symptom of a psychological disorder. Assisted suicide, or active euthanasia, are terms used to define what would be considered an ending a patient’s life that is devoid of mental illness or compulsion (can intelligently understand the consequences of his or her action). Some patients receive help from a physician to end life in a humane way. A major ethical concern for many people is whether ending life prematurely — with or without the assistance of medical professional — is right or wrong, whether it is a sin or illegal. Obviously, many see this differently. A Patient knows what he wants, that is to live through eternity and be healthy. Throughout history, we have made advances in science and technology hoping that we will achieve that but unfortunately the end result is rather different. As we have helped a patient with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) patient live through the worst the extreme later stages knowing that the person imprisoned inside that body is suffering, not all but quiet few may have wished to end their lives if they could. Physicians today have mixed opinions that are mainly based on their perception of themselves as healers and not someone who intentionally ends another human being’s life. The only problem with this scenario is the definition of medical service and healing. Are physicians truly in a position to claim that they are healers hence can prolong life indefinitely? Or if not, then what is their role when they face a situation where they are keeping the patient imprisoned in their body and the only comfort option there is simply ending the torture by peaceful termination of life? Isn’t this what the Hippocratic Oath is all about — Cure sometimes, treat often, and comfort always? Or as it says, “First do no harm.” Aren’t we really causing harm when we are utilizing the technology and science only to keep heart and mind working but in fact what we are offering are torture and suffering? Medical treatment and the practice of medicine is more than just healing a person. It is about taking care of a human being as a whole. It comes with an understanding of what life is and what is expected throughout a person’s life. We may have to treat laboratory results and X-ray findings within the process but under certain circumstances, it may not be necessary or even be redundant. By overlooking this important prerequisite it is easy to slip into the practice of extending natural death instead of extending quality life. Extending pain and suffering can replace comfort. Then as physicians, we have to ask ourselves are we really healers or physicians? The answer is we cannot heal always but we can comfort all the time and treat often within that process. Does death really mean failure of medicine, or is a failure when we can’t provide the best comfort between birth and death? Medi

cally assisted suicide is the ultimate last resort decided between physician and patient. Technology has advanced to keep people alive longer but has not ensured the quality of life in many cases. This is the result of population health cookie cutter medicine that will only get worse with the corporatization and technology-only medicine. Healthcare needs to get personalized where every medical decision is made by the individual tailored to individual circumstances. Quality of Life and medical service need to be determined based on individual requirements and if medically assisted euthanasia is determined to be the last resort and mutual between physician and patient then it would be considered a medical care. Medically assisted suicide is a clinical judgment and can only be prescribed by a qualified physician who practices personalized medicine and believes in Hippocratic Oath and laws must be governed by those standards.

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